National Instruments today announced a new version of its intuitive drag-and-drop software that powers the LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 robotics kits for retail and education. With this system, children as young as 9 years old can design their own robots using new features such as color recognition, Bluetooth support and additional robot models that offer children more options to express their creativity. The software, which will be included with all LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 kits, is based on the widely adopted NI LabVIEW graphical programming software, which provides children easy-to-use, drag-and-drop functionality to program their robotic creations. With this software, students simply drag and drop icons that are representative of the various tasks they want their robots to perform, similar to how professional engineers and scientists control today’s latest robotics with LabVIEW.
“We are constantly amazed at how graphical programming based on LabVIEW makes the NXT simultaneously powerful and easy to use,” said Lars Nyengaard, director of innovation and robotics for the LEGO Group. “We’re proud to have built the MINDSTORMS software around LabVIEW technology, which uses picture-based interaction that facilitates a fun and creative design experience for children. This new generation of MINDSTORMS delivers new features to help our young customers increase their interest and knowledge in robotics.”
First released in 2006, LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT has been used by children around the world both at home and in the classroom. The hands-on system engages student curiosity and helps teach problem-solving and analytical skills that are vital in the 21st century workplace. NXT 2.0 software creates the possibility for new types of robotic customization so that no two robots are alike. Software features include support for a new color recognition sensor, which helps robots perform color-matching tasks and sense light levels, and programmatic Bluetooth support. Additionally, new sound and image editors can load images and sounds into the robot’s memory for display on the LCD screen or to play back the sound of choice. Children also can share project files with friends using the new Pack-N-Go project packager. The LEGO MINDSTORMS education version, which launched this past January, includes such features as an easy-to-use data logging tool.
“LEGO and NI share a vision of inspiring today’s students to be tomorrow’s innovators,” said Ray Almgren, vice president of academic relations at National Instruments. “We believe that LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT, powered by LabVIEW graphical programming, helps children explore technology and provides an important hands-on learning platform that develops creativity and ingenuity in today’s students.”
The LEGO Group and National Instruments have a long-standing relationship that began in 1998 with the development of the programming software for the original LEGO MINDSTORMS for Schools product and continued with the introduction of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT in 2006 and the LEGO Education WeDo™ platform in 2009. NI and LEGO are committed to inspiring creativity and innovation in children and have worked together to ensure that this “NXT” generation of MINDSTORMS is smarter, stronger and more intuitive than ever. Today, the intuitive LabVIEW software platform powers a robotics continuum of products for all ages, delivering age-appropriate software from grade school to graduate school and into industry.
The LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT 2.0 robotics kit for retail is available through retailers that carry LEGO products. The education version of the kit, which is specifically designed for use in classrooms, is available through LEGO Education distributors.