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Robots, Lego, and food trucks

San Francisco, City of Geeks, today hosted a unique event that celebrated the creativity of our fair city. Lego was in town for the launch of the third generation of Lego Mindstorms, the EV3, a Linux-based computer platform which integrates the age-old creative design of Lego with robotics programming.

Situated in the SOMA Street Food Park with beers and a dozen tasty trucks on a beautiful, sunny, San Francisco day, teams from Facebook, Instructables, Yahoo, and Pandora showed off their custom designs.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Mindstorms EV3 Robodozer

Bringing Lego to life with limitless robotics opens up a new world of creation on the platform. Lego recently announced a set of 12 bonus design instructions for the Mindstroms EV3 platform. Designed by an international group of Mindstorms community experts and Lego fanatics, these 12 join the 5 models introduced earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Presenting their designs

Four teams, representing Facebook, Instructables, Yahoo, and Pandora, have been working on their projects for the past two weeks. They presented their final projects to the Lego-expert judges today.

Lego Mindstorms, programmable robotics kits, have been around for a number of years, but the latest kits, available starting September 1, add support for smartphones and tablets with an iOS or Android app.

The app ecosystem really opens up the EV3 platform, making these serious robotics tools. The app can act both as a remote control and a programming tool. These are Legos like you've never seen before.
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Lego glasses

One of the Instructables team members shows off her Lego glasses. Get the design and instructions here. Lego says you should be up and running in no more than an hour.

The $349 Mindstorms EV3 set has more than 550 pieces from the Lego Technic system, and all the parts you need to make 5 robots, with the additional 12 available soon online.

There are three motors, an IR sensor, a color-sensing module, and a touch sensor. You could even connect Mindstorms up to Wi-Fi via USB, or add extra memory via an SD card slot.
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Driving while texting

Each programmable EV3 brick comes with an ARM9 robotic processor, an SD expansion slot and embedded 16MB flash memory, Linux, Bluetooth 2.1, iOS and Android compatibility, a USB 2.0 interface allowing Wi-Fi connectivity, four input and output ports, and a Matrix display with a loudspeaker.

The quirkiest design was the distracted-walker Instructables Mindstorms EV3 robot, which was programmed to use its sensors to drive toward objects, intentionally crashing into them, as it was distracted from texting.
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Banner Printer

One of the 12 new instructional designs released today was this Banner Printer, a very cool machine which, when activated, actually wrote out pre-programmed words on its receipt roll.

The active Mindstorms community online includes a library of more than 15,000 creations.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Facebook's Mindstorms EV3

The Facebook team took a break before the judging to grab some food from one of the food trucks at the SOMA Street Food Park in San Francisco.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


In tribute to Joshua Abraham Norton, the self-proclaimed Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, a celebrated citizen of San Francisco, the Yahoo/Flickr team built this Mindstroms EV3 robotic likeness.
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Robot Emperor Norton I

Norton, a San Francisco businessman, had once issued a currency with his likeness, which was actually accepted at establishments he frequented.

The robot version of Norton, seen here, also makes his claim to fame by rolling around and rapidly shooting out bills.
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Mindstorms EV3 Rac3 Truck

The Mindstorms EV3 Rac3 Truck, one of the 12 newer models recently released, designed by Lauren Valk.
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Pandora goes to the game

Pandora's team actually stuck with a team theme and shouted out its home base of Oakland, Calif.
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Giant's pitcher

The Pandora design was a two-part entry to the contest, connected by one brain. A Giant's pitcher, seen here, launched a small ball, which was then swung at -- and often hit -- by the Oakland Athletics batter.

The two pieces were set a predetermined distance apart, with the "hitter" part of the design swinging its bat at a set duration of time after the ball was pitched.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

Pandora's Athletics batter

The batter part of Pandora's winning baseball-themed Mindstorms EV3 design was dressed as a member of the Bay Area's Oakland Athletics. Pandora is based across the bay from San Francisco, in Oakland, Calif.
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The Mindstorms EV3 Dinor3x, one of the 12 newer models recently released, created by Lasse Stenbæk Lauesen.
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Mindstorms EV3 El3ctric Guitar

The Mindstorms EV3 El3ctric Guitar, one of the 12 newer models recently released, created by Daniele Benedettelli.
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Mindstorms EV3 Bobb3e

The Mindstorms EV3 Bobb3e forklift design, one of the 12 newer models recently released, created by Kenneth Ravnshøj Madsen.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET

The Lego trophy

The grand prize Lego trophy waits to be claimed. Following the judging, the Pandora team walked away victorious for their Giants pitcher-Athletics batter robot design.

CNET recently unboxed and built one of the new Mindstorms EV3 kits. Check it out here.
Photo by: James Martin/CNET


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