LEGO (opens in new tab)is bringing robotic toys to a new level with the new Mindstorms EV3, a robot building kit that is designed to appeal to both the beginning tooler and the advanced hacker. The new Mindstorms EV3 won't be available until the second half of 2013, but we were able to check out some of the supported out-of-the-box designs at the 2013 International Toy Fair.
The kit includes support for both predesigned robots, in designs such as snakes, scorpions and people, but is also open to custom designing and building. The easiest robot takes approximately 20 minutes to build, aimed at children as young as 10 years old, while more advanced robots, such as the snake, can take hours.
The power of the new EV3 is in the Intelligent Brick, which is incorporated into every design. This brick allows users to instantly interact with their new robot, by selecting different programs on the device itself, rather than requiring any advanced coding. The snake we saw was programmed to lash out and bite anything near its head, as detected by the imbedded IR sensor. The scorpion tracked us and shot small balls out of its tail.
Users can interact with their robots using the included IR remote, the IR sensor which can be built into each robot, and through a free app for Android and iOS. The Intelligent Brick includes a USB port and an SD card slot, allowing users to load and store a nearly unlimited amount of programs.
The new Mindstorms EV3 is the first LEGO product to also include 3D building instructions, available for desktops and the iPad, which aims to simplify the building process for even the most advanced designs. Powered by Autodesk Inventor Publisher, users can zoom and rotate pieces show in the instructions, ensuring they're building the robot correctly.
The Mindstorms EV3 kit will cost $349.99 and include enough parts for five different robots, though only one can be built at a time. Adventurous users can modify these designs, and even build their own robots, building an innumerable number of robots with a single kit. There's not yet an exact release date, but the Mindstorms EV kit should be available the second half of this year.