LAS VEGAS – At CES 2017 Lego introduced a new brand of robotics kits called Lego Boost. Lego Boost is not replacing the popular Lego Mindstorms robotics kits. Boost is aimed at introducing younger kids to the basics of programming, while Mindstorms offers more advanced robotics kits for more experienced builders.
Lego Boost combines building blocks with sensors, motors, and Android/iOS app control to let kids build a variety of robots that can respond to stimulii. The Lego Boost base starter set is priced at $160 and will be available later this year. It comes with the Move Hub, a distance/color sensor, a motor, and 843 Lego bricks.
The Boost kit is controlled by the Move Hub, which communicates with a smartphone or tablet running the Boost app. The kit and app provide instructions for building five different robots: Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4, and Autobuilder (essentially a 3D printer).
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Similar to Lego bricks, Boost’s coding language is built from small chunks that are snapped together to form more complex structures. Short commands can be chained together to form longer sequences, and it’s easy since there’s no typing involved.
Lego is paying homage to Johnny 5 with Vernie the Robot. Vernie can be programmed to tell jokes or rap. Different tasks teach different programming skills. The robot cat can be programmed to drink virtual milk. But, be careful, the cat will digitally fart as it’s lactose intolerant.
Vernie the Robot is Lego’s tribute to Johnny 5.