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.
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.
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.
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.
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.