The highly anticipated Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit will release this weekend on 1 September, but Lego has already launched a social community website and three Mindstorms iOS and Android apps in preparation.
Lego Mindstorms EV3 is the third generation of the LEGO Mindstorms kits, and it contains software and hardware for creating small, customisable and programmable robots. The EV3 is the successor to the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0; the "EV" means simply that it's an "evolution" of the second-generation NXT series.
The new Mindstorms social community is an online place where robot builders can do things such as upload their custom robot, as well as like, follow and interact with other robot builders. There's even message boards, Getting Started instructions, FAQs and a Featured Robot section.
As for those new apps, they're free and called Robot Commander, 3D Builder and Fix the Factory. The Robot Commander app specifically allows mobile users to control their EV3 with an iOS or Android device (sort of like a remote control). It connects via Bluetooth to the EV3 Intelligent Brick. Users will have access to five pre-set commands for the robots, or they can program their own commands.
Robot builders can also view systematic 3D building instructions for the EV3 models called EV3RSTORM, TRACK3R, GRIPP3R, SPIK3R and R3PTAR via the 3D Builder app for iOS and Android, or they can navigate through a factory maze - which features a robotics-programming interface - via the Fix the Factory game for iOS and Android.
The Mindstorms EV3 includes motors, sensors, programmable brick, over 550 Lego technic elements, as well as support for English, French, German, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish and Danish. It will cost $349.99 when it lands. That might sound a bit pricey, but the Lego kits are especially popular among students, robot enthusiasts and engineers who have said the kits inspired them to enter robotics as a career field.