Announced back in January at CES in Las Vegas, Lego has finally confirmed that its Mindstorms robotic set - the LEGO Mindstorms NXT - is getting a UK launch next month.

The new range called Mindstorm NXT which can be controlled via the PC or Mac will cost £179.99 and will be aimed at 10-year-olds across the globe and is tipped to be the must have Christmas toy for 2006.

Building upon the success of the globally-renowned Robotics Invention System, for the next generation of LEGO MINDSTORMS, lego has made it easier to build meaning robot creators can build and program a working robot in just 30 minutes.

The heart of the new system is the NXT brick, an autonomous 32-bit LEGO microprocessor that can be programmed using a PC, or for the first time in the retail offering, a Mac. After building their robots, users create a program within easy-to-use yet feature-rich software, powered by LabVIEW from National Instruments.

Downloading programs to an invention is easy. Users with Bluetooth-enabled computer hardware can transfer their programs to the NXT wirelessly, or anyone can use the included USB2.0 cable to connect their computer to the NXT for program transfer. The robot then takes on a life of its own, fully autonomous from the computer. The inclusion of Bluetooth technology also extends possibilities for controlling robots remotely, for example, from a mobile phone or PDA.

The kit also includes three interactive servo motors feature inbuilt rotation sensors to align speed for precise control, a new ultrasonic sensor makes robots “see” by responding to movement, a new sound sensor enables robots to react to sound commands, including sound pattern and tone recognition and improved light sensor detects different colours and light intensity.

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