January 05, 2006

Wow! Lego Mindstorms NXT

Yesterday I wrote "There are rumblings that Lego has been phasing out Lego Mindstorms despite the system's general awesomeness."

I was wrong. Lego is investing in Mindstorms with a vengeance. Awesomeness is here to stay.

Today at CES in Las Vegas, Lego will be demonstrating a new version of Mindstorms called "NXT" centered around an all-new programmable brick to replace the RCX. Some features, links, pictures, and a video...

Okay, here's the rundown:

  • The NXT brick has a 32-bit processor with more memory than the RCX, plus flash memory.
  • The brick has a big matrix LCD screen and piezo speakers - it can talk!
  • Plus four input ports and three output ports, and a wired USB 2.0 connection (rather than the infrared thing).
  • It is Bluetooth-enabled. So download programs and commands directly from your Powerbook, no wires.
  • Did I say Powerbook? Oh yeah, Mac support in the consumer product, out-of-the-box.
  • It supports servos! So maybe this means fast, strong, precise motion rather than setting up arrays of touch-sensors just to try to control the motors.
  • There is an ultrasonic sensor. This should be useful as a proximity detector, so perhaps we can avoid bumping into walls so much.
  • And there is also a sound sensor. Clap on... Clap off...
  • A new light sensor can detect color. Hooray! My son keeps asking, "how can we make a robot see?" - and what he means is "How can we make a robot detect visible wavelength light instead of infrared?" Actually, what he really wants is a full-fledged vision system with object recognition and tracking. But color is a good start.
  • New improved touch sensor "allows robots to feel" (what does that mean?)
  • Six-wire "digital wire" interface that looks like it's hooked up using RJ-11 - make that DEC 6C - plugs. (No more need to solder wire connectors into bricks to make custom electronics it seems...)
  • 500+ parts come with the kit. And all this for $249! What a bargain!

The only catch: you'll have to wait until August 2006 to get one.

Now the question is, will the same sort of developer community sprout up around the NXT as around the fabulous RCX? I remember that NQC showed up in what seemed like no time at all. What processor is inside the NXT? What will the battery life be like?

I wonder how much compatibility there will be with old mindstorms parts, motors, and sensors. Can you use the NXT to control a Lego Train? What add-on parts will there be? Let's watch and see.

They've got an official blog about the NXT, written by Jeff James: nxtbot.com.

How fun!

Update: Just a few minutes ago (4AM on the east coast - what am I doing up?), they've posted a new form on the Mindstorms community website allowing people to sign up to be beta testers and seed community members for the NXT.

I've sent in my application... I promise that if I get picked, I'll post lots more about it here.

More links. Peter Holm, member of the Mindstorms team comes out of the closet, describing the design process as "a blast, a struggle, a once in a lifetime experience."

The Slashdot discussion begins.

And LUGNET discusses it too, of course.

Naturally, Gizmodo has some pictures of the NXT from CES.

The NXT has made its appearance on Lego Shop@Home as kit #8527.

Robot Magazine has an article with more pictures and a video clip! The video shows off really impressive, fluid motion in the new system. You can't beat that.

And Wired has a great article on the development of the NXT. It's going to be the cover story in February.

Mike Rayhawk, a designer for Lego, talks about the Wired article and Lego's relationship with adult fans; Mike tips his hat to Jake's community efforts and notices that "the company has changed so dramatically since I was first picked up back in 2002".

An educational version is also in the works.

More tomorrow.

Posted by David at January 5, 2006 03:43 AM

Oh man. For toys like this, I think I can wave off my $100 cap!

Posted by: Roger at January 5, 2006 11:40 AM

It feels so great to see the excitement of the entire RIS user community. I'm really looking forward to see how the software will be received by guys like yourself. When you've been buried in the design process for ages, it becomes hard to see it as a first time user will see it.

Posted by: Peter at January 6, 2006 11:13 AM

I'm can't wait to try the software. I'm interested in what this new LabView-based system will be like.... Hm! I'm also interested to see what the community decides to put together...

Posted by: David at January 6, 2006 03:55 PM

I've posted some pictures (with my own comments) of the (beta?) software on my blog. I'm like you, David... looking forward to NXT but really can't wait to see what the software is capable of...

Jim K

Posted by: Jim K. at February 3, 2006 03:34 PM

i want one for christmas

Posted by: jajabinks at August 22, 2006 03:48 PM

i really what one.there so cool.

Posted by: trent at September 14, 2006 05:53 PM

can you have an NXT go for 3 black lines?

Posted by: at September 30, 2006 07:26 PM

i have nxt. It is a realy cool sett wit wery strong motors and the sound sensor is very god

Posted by: Reddy Eddy at November 2, 2006 10:20 AM

I recently included a short mention of this site and this post in an article I wrote on blogging for a Chicago area paper. A copy of the article is here: http://www.dkworldwide.com/techlife/archives/2006/11/01/passion-publishing-get-paid/trackback/

Posted by: Dave Kaufman - Techlife at November 2, 2006 12:04 PM

i want to know how to build a marvelous robot

Posted by: ganenthra from st.john at April 14, 2007 06:25 AM

I have an nxt it is awesome!

Posted by: seth at September 17, 2007 07:57 PM


Posted by: at July 5, 2008 02:01 PM

nxt Rules!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: aj at February 20, 2009 01:01 PM

hi my name is NXT 2.0!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: anthony at February 20, 2009 01:04 PM

They are really cool.

Posted by: philip at July 8, 2009 05:59 PM

nxt is the best thing EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Trev at November 11, 2010 07:55 PM

I have one, I made it into a really cool robotic arm

Posted by: Austen at December 10, 2010 06:31 PM


Posted by: at April 10, 2011 10:52 PM
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