Lego Mindstorms: Learn to program robos while playing

Billund (dpa / tmn) – It’s such a thing with computers in the children’s room. In the opinion of many parents, notebooks or tablets that are only used for paddling or watching YouTube do not belong there or may only be used under strict conditions.

However, the new edition of the Lego Mindstorms robot toy cannot do without a computer, because it is there that the robots are brought to life. The new kit called Robot Inventor consists of 949 parts, including a so-called hub, the robot’s brain, and four motors.

One looks in vain for building instructions in the large box. On the one hand, it is available online as a PDF document. But you get ahead better if you use the app to build the robots right away, because you are guided step by step and videos give explanations in between.

The application works on Windows 10 computers, Macs, iPads and iPhones, on Android tablets and smartphones as well as on tablets with the Amazon Fire OS operating system. Building robots with a tablet, regardless of the manufacturer, proves to be particularly recommended in practice.

Five robo friends

You can build five robot types with the new Mindstorms. Charlie, Tricky, Blast, MVP and Gelo. Charlie is a cute little assistant robot that comes to life with lots of animations and sounds. As a little finger and programming exercise, you can let him push a shopping cart.

The tasks Charlie and his colleagues can cope with does not depend solely on creativity and skill in putting the building blocks together. The animations are programmed. Lego offers two solutions.

For all those who have no programming experience, Lego uses a scratch-based language that was specially developed for children and teenagers. More advanced users can also use the powerful and more complex programming language Python. Therefore, Lego customers also include technical colleges and universities.

One of the robots that the set can build includes Blast, a kind of stoic action hero who can shoot or hammer through obstacles and grab objects. It can also be programmed to scan its surroundings and fire darts when it senses danger.

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From crane to buggy

MVP stands for Multiple Vehicle Platform, which means that with a few modifications, a wide variety of vehicles can be built from it. This includes a crane or a brisk buggy. To control MVP remotely, you can set up a modular remote control with the Remote Control Builder in the app. It can even be used to construct and program a small vehicle that rushes through the room to collect Lego bricks on the floor.

Tricky was designed as a sporty robot. He started his life as a maze runner robot. Later, the Lego developers also taught him basketball and soccer. Elements and building blocks from other Lego series can also be integrated into the games.

Gelo, who walks on four legs, made the strongest impression in the test. The toy is very reminiscent of a robot dog, it’s just cute. He uses all four engines in the set. In order to move the legs, all independently.

In order to get the programs running on the robots, you don’t have to be constantly connected to the tablet or smartphone via Bluetooth. The programs can also be downloaded to the robot’s hub and run locally. Unfortunately, in contrast to the previous Lego Mindstorms EV3 system, external devices such as a webcam can no longer be connected via USB. The USB socket in the hub is only used to charge the battery.

With a recommended price of around 360 euros, Mindstorm’s robot inventor is one of the most expensive Lego products. In view of the many possibilities that this educational toy, which is intended for ages ten and over, does not seem unreasonably large, especially since the market price is up to 100 euros cheaper.

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