AI News, Robotics/Exotic Robots/The LEGO World

Robotics/Exotic Robots/The LEGO World

Legos have become a popular robotics resource, primarily as an educational tool, but also as building materials for fast and easy prototyping.

With a basic kit of parts, many different robotic machines and mechanisms can be created, tested, modified, disassembled and recreated easily without any damage to the building materials.

Because of the popularity of Legos, there is also a huge wealth of third party resources available – hardware, software, instructional material, and challenges.

The origins of the Lego Mindstorms Robotics kits trace back to Seymour Papert’s book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, in which Papert proposed that rather than using computers to provide exercises for children – “the computer programming the child”, the situation should be reversed and the child given control – “the child programs the computer”.

Papert thought that in this way, the child would gain a more active role in building his own knowledge in response to a recognizable personal purpose rather than simply listening to explanations.

Mindstorms robotics kits quickly became an extremely popular educational resource, being used for robotics classes and competitions around the world.[2]

The NXT has an extra sensor port and Bluetooth communication and the basic kit adds an ultrasonic sensor as well as built-in rotation sensors on all the motors.

A new competition board is created each year with theme-based tasks for the robots to accomplish within a set time limit.

New full screen Lobby to navigate through the content provided including access to the project files for the five EV3 Hero Robots, TRACK3R, SPIK3R, R3PTAR, GRIPP3R and EV3RSTORM, plus direct links to the 12 Fan-made Bonus Robots.

Content is editable directly inside the software, enabling customization of existing projects or creation of new ones from scratch.

Programming blocks will display a warning symbol if expected hardware by the programming block is different from the detected hardware by Auto ID.

has been added to easily create robots that behave according to change in the environment, as opposed to waiting for the threshold, which only works by comparing measured values.

Lego Mindstorms

Lego Mindstorms is a hardware software platform produced by Lego for the development of programmable robots based on Lego building blocks.

Each version of the system includes an intelligent brick computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and Lego parts from the Technic line to create the mechanical systems.

The hardware and software roots of the Mindstorms Robotics Invention System kit go back to a programmable brick prototype created at the MIT Media Lab in 1987, based on the Lego/LOGO programming environment.

The brick is programmed by uploading a program (written in one of several available programming languages) from a Windows or Mac computer to the brick's RAM via a special infrared (IR) interface.

After the user starts a program, an RCX-enabled Mindstorms creation can function independently on its own, acting on internal and external stimuli according to the programmed instructions.

In addition to the IR port, the system includes three sensor input ports and three motor output ports (which can also be used to drive other electrical devices such as lamps and so forth).

A built-in LCD can display the battery level, the status of the input/output ports, which program is selected or running, and other information.[citation needed]

Version 1.0 RCX bricks feature a power adapter jack to allow continuous operation instead of the limited operation time when using batteries.

Power adapter equipped RCX bricks are popular for stationary robotics projects (such as robot arms) or for controlling Lego model trains.

The IR interface on the RCX is able to communicate with Spybots, Scout Bricks, Lego Train, and the NXT (using a third-party infrared link sensor.) The RCX 1.0 IR receiver carrier frequency is 38.5 kHz, while the RCX 2.0 IR carrier frequency is 76 kHz.

All versions of the RCX have a unique number printed on it, necessary for technical support and used as the ID number of the RCX for your Lego Mindstorms account on the now-defunct Lego Mindstorms RCX website.

The control panel included six non-reversible 4.5V output ports, three reversible 4.5V output ports (each using the power lines from their two adjacent non-reversible ports), two 4.5V input ports, and one continuous 4.5V output port.

Using programs running on the host computer, the user could create stationary programmable robotic Lego inventions using the older 4.5V system.

The control center (1990) was the first programmable standalone Lego product, in the sense of being able to store sequence-based programs and run them.

It featured three output ports and manual control, and it was only capable of storing linear sequences of manual input plus timing information.

The control lab was a datalogger, which featured four passive input ports, four active input ports, eight controllable 9V output ports, and one continuous output port.

The control panel connected to a computer using a serial-port with a specially designed adapter cable and a supplied computer-program allowed the user to conditionally program the outputs.

Later Pbricks kept the color-coding for the input ports, but the later sensors dropped the color-coding of the connectors (using black connectors instead).

The brick shares many, especially software, features with the RCX but differs in appearance and technical specifications: one output (plus two built-in) and four sensors.

It talks the same protocol as the RCX but cannot communicate directly to it (due to IR vs RF) but with a repeater (a computer with 2 serial ports and a simple program) they can communicate indirectly.

Lego also released a blue computer called the Scout, which has 2 sensor ports, 2 motor ports (plus one extra if linked with a Micro Scout using a fiber optic cable), and a built in light sensor, but no PC interface.

kit consists of 577 pieces, including: 3 servo motors, 4 sensors (ultrasonic, sound, touch, and light), 7 connection cables, a USB interface cable, and the NXT Intelligent Brick.

It includes a light sensor, an ultrasonic sensor, a sound sensor, three lamps and a pair of touch sensors.

In addition, the shipped software can be replaced with third party firmware and/or programming languages, including some of the most popular ones used by professionals in the embedded systems industry, like Java and C.

This includes 48 tutorials to walk the learner through the basics of coding to more sophisticated and complex concepts such as data logging.

The retail version was designed for more of a home/toy use vs the educator model was designed to support deeper learning with extra resources and pieces to do so.

There is a strong community of professionals and hobbyists of all ages involved in the sharing of designs, programming techniques, creating third-party software and hardware, and contributing of other ideas associated with Lego Mindstorms.

Lego Mindstorms NXT

LEGO Mindstorms NXT is a programmable robotics kit released by Lego in late July 2006.[1] It

The second generation of the set, the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0, was released on August 1, 2009, featuring a color sensor and other upgraded capabilities.

It can take input from up to four sensors and control up to three motors, via a modified version of RJ12 cables, very much similar to but incompatible with RJ11 phone cords.

The brick has a 100×60 pixel monochrome LCD and four buttons that can be used to navigate a user interface using hierarchical menus.

Power is supplied by 6 AA (1.5 V each) batteries in the consumer version of the kit and by a Li-Ion rechargeable battery and charger in the educational version.

More complicated programs and sound files can be downloaded using a USB port or wirelessly using Bluetooth.

Up to three NXT bricks can communicate simultaneously via Bluetooth when user created programs are run.

The retail version of the kit includes software for writing programs that run on Windows and Mac OS personal computers.

The software is based on National Instruments LabVIEW and provides a visual programming language for writing simple programs and downloading them to the NXT Brick.

This means that rather than requiring users to write lines of code, they instead can use flowchart like 'blocks' to design their program.

With careful construction of blocks and wires to encapsulate complexity, NXT-G can be used for real-world programming.

Parallel 'sequence beams' are actually parallel threads, so this software is quite good for running a handful of parallel sense/respond loops (example: wait 60 seconds, play a 'bonk' sound at low volume if battery is low, loop), or blending autonomous control with bluetooth or other 'remote control'.

Version 2.0 contains new tutorial challenges, a remote control, custom graphics and sound designers, and new LEGO color sensor support.

BricxCC has many utilities such as NeXTExplorer (upload/download files, defragment the NXT, use file hex viewer), NeXTScreen (view what's on the NXT's LCD, and capture images and video).

Next Byte Codes (NBC) is a simple open source language with an assembly language syntax that can be used to program the NXT brick.

RoboMind is educational software that is specially developed to teach students about logic, programming and robotics.

The strength of RoboMind is the compactness of the learning environment, which allows to quickly develop and test scripts in a virtual environment.

ROBOTC runs a very optimized firmware which allows the NXT to run programs very quickly, and also compresses the files so that a large number of programs can fit into the NXT.

leJOS NXJ is a high level open source language based on Java that uses custom firmware developed by the leJOS team.[11]

It relies on a dedicated run-time kernel based on the Ravenscar profile, the same used on the Goce satellite: this permits to use high-level Ada features to develop concurrent and real-time systems on the Mindstorms NXT.

It has also support for a simple message-based control of a NXT brick via remotely executed program (basic NXC code included).

In the software (see Programming above), people can decide what to do with the information that comes from the sensors, such as programming the robot move forward until it touches something.[citation needed]

Sensors are connected to the NXT brick using a 6-position modular connector that features both analog and digital interfaces.

Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0 is the second set from LEGO's Lego Mindstorms series, launched on August 5, 2009 at the Lego Shop in the U.S. The set contains 619 pieces, including a new sensor that can detect colors.

In the original kit, the sensors included are the color sensor, two touch sensors, and an ultrasonic sensor:

ROBOTC is an integrated development environment targeted towards students that is used to program and control LEGO NXT, VEX, RCX, and Arduino robots using a programming language based on the C programming language.

RoboMind is an educational programming environment that offers a concise scripting language for programming a simulated robot.

leJOS NXJ is a high level open source language based on Java that uses custom firmware developed by the leJOS team.[11]

It has also support for a simple message-based control of a NXT brick via remotely executed program (basic NXC code included).

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