Lego announces Open Source firmware, Developer Kits for Mindstorms NXT
By Mike Hanlon
May 2, 2006
May 3, 2006 We suspect the announcement by LEGO that it will release as open source the firmware of the LEGO MINDSTORMS microprocessor (the new NXT brick – the core component of its next generation robotics toolset) will have a considerable impact on the fledgling robotics home hobby marketplace and potentially on general robotic knowledge. LEGO will also release Software, Hardware and Bluetooth Developer Kits to its growing global audience of robotics enthusiasts. The firmware code and three developer kits will be available in August 2006 to conincide with retail availability of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT.
The Software Developer Kit will include the NXT driver interface specification and necessary tools for creating third-party programming environments. The Hardware Developer Kit will provide the schematics and detail for the NXT 6-wire digital connector system, enabling the community to design and develop third-party sensors that can interact with and control the NXT motors and intelligent brick. The Bluetooth Developer Kit will detail the Bluetooth protocol embedded in the NXT microprocessor, allowing users to create applications for any Bluetooth device that them to communicate with MINDSTORMS robots.
“Most often, innovation comes from the core community of users. Our ongoing commitment to enabling our fan base to personalize and enhance their MINDSTORMS experience has reached a new level with our decision to release the firmware for the NXT brick as open source,” said Søren Lund, director of LEGO MINDSTORMS.
“When we launched the legacy MINDSTORMS platform in 1998, the community found ways to do these things on their own, and we were faced with the question of whether to allow it, which we decided to embrace and encourage. Now, given the strong user base and versatility and power of the NXT platform, the right to hack is a ‘no brainer.’ We’re excited to see how our open approach will push new boundaries of robotic development and are eager for all enthusiasts to share their creations with the community.”
Today also marks the first time that the original 14 MINDSTORMS Users Panel members and 100 recruited members of the MINDSTORMS Developer Program, an exclusive group of enthusiasts charged with helping guide the product development process, can publicly share their initial experiences and experiments with the NXT platform. During a four-month process, participants have had access to a secure Web forum where they can communicate with one another, learn more about the project, debate issues, create solutions and support the ultimate launch of LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT in August.
About LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT
LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT is a robotics toolset for armchair inventors, robotics fanatics and LEGO builders ages 10 and older to build and program robots that do what they want. The set includes 571 pieces, the NXT intelligent brick, touch, light, ultrasonic and sound sensors, 3 interactive servo motors, USB 2.0 cable, is Bluetooth enabled and features a new PC/MAC compatible programming software powered by LabVIEW from National Instruments and featuring 18 robotics building and programming challenges to inspire robotics creation.
LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT will be available at most toy and discount merchandise retailers, select consumer electronics retailers or online at LEGOshop.com in August 2006 and will have a suggested retail price of US$250. A special version for school and institutional use is releasing later this year.