Lego’s next generation of robotics was released in September 2013 in the form of the Mindstorms EV3 Robotics kit. Wielding an ‘Intelligent Brick’ that users can program, robot inventors the world over can interface with numerous sensors and motors to construct autonomous robots. With so many choices and possibilities it can be a bit daunting trying to decide where or how to begin. Fortunately, the printed instructions for building TRACK3R are included in the EV3 Home set (kit # 31313) and five pre-programmed missions are available for download with the Lego Mindstorms software. Here’s why TRACK3R is hands down the best robot to build straight away:
Ease of Building TRACK3R
TRACK3R isn’t an overly complex robot to build, but going through the process of constructing this very educational model gives you a feel for how the many pieces interconnect and the basics behind the framework of your construction. Plugging in the cables from sensors to the ‘Intelligent Brick’ also gives you an overall understanding of the layout of the device and some experience with differentiating between input and output. You are also able to get some instant satisfaction from completing this build with the already loaded, ready to run ‘DEMO’ program.
TRACK3R’s Tools Rule
TRACK3R comes with the ability to construct five variations to the basic TRACK3R model. Each variation has its own ‘tool’ that it uses to complete various missions; Rotating Blade, Shooter, Claw, Hammer and Color Sensor in that mission order. Each tool is interchangeable on the front of the TRACK3R robot. Simply unplug one and attach the other to be immediately ready to run through a different mission. Something that particularly impressed me about the various tools was the ability to construct all of them simultaneously without the need to cannibalize parts from another. This kept the flow of learning and playing with the robot and missions at a maximum.
TRACK3R’s five missions come free with the Lego Mindstorms EV3 Home Edition software download. Each mission includes the instructions to build the associated ‘tool’ as well as the program to run that mission. Simply connect the ‘Intelligent Brick’ to your computer to download all five missions to be able to run them. Each mission showcases a different ability that you can incorporate into future creations such as the ability to shoot balls at a target, or pick up and drop objects at specific locations. Perhaps best of all is the ability to see and modify the actual program that tells your robot to do all of these amazing things. This can serve as the perfect introduction to writing your own programs for your own robots.
If building the robot and running some pre-programmed missions isn’t enough to get you excited, you can also experiment with using the remote control to drive your robot around and activating whatever tool you happen to have attached. Even after an entire weekend devoted to building, playing and experimenting with TRACK3R, my kids and I have still not explored every facet of this incredible robot. For more information you can head over to the official Mindstorms page to learn more about the Lego Mindstorms EV3 system or to download the free programs.