Category Archives: Lego


   

MATLAB Packages for the NXT

Brickengineer announces MATLAB packages for the LEGO NXT Robotics system:

There are now several MATLAB packages for robotics, and specifically for the NXT. One paradigm is to run the code on a PC and have it communicate direct commands to the NXT Brick via Bluetooth or USB. I have found this paradigm to be a bit dangerous since in the event of a MATLAB crash or a miscommunication, the NXT Brick will continue with its last command until ordered to stop. This has the potential to destroy your robot. The paradigm that I prefer to use is to write several programs that run on the brick. These programs take commands from files on the brick that can be uploaded rapidly from the PC. The MATLAB code then is in charge of sending the command files and starting and stopping programs. In the event of a MATLAB crash or communication failure, the software running on the NXT Brick can be designed to terminate gracefully.

Here are the MATLAB packages that I know of. The first two are specifically geared toward the NXT; whereas the last is a general robotics package.

* LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT Toolkit for MATLAB and Simulink
http://www.mathworks.com/programs/mindstorms/
* Robotics Toolbox for MATLAB (Release 7.1) (P.I. Corke)
http://petercorke.com/Robotics%20Toolbox.html
* RWTH Mindstorms NXT Toolbox for Matlab
http://www.mindstorms.rwth-aachen.de/


   

Knuth: Developing Robotic Scientists for Space Exploration

The University at Albany (SUNY) has highlighted Knuth’s research in a recent news piece.

UAlbany Professor Kevin Knuth with a robot built from LEGOs. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

UAlbany Professor Kevin Knuth with a robot built from LEGOs. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Kevin Knuth has a laboratory in the physics department of the University at Albany that is filled with LEGOs. The bricks are relatively cheap and can be used to rapidly prototype a robot’s body. Knuth’s robots are being programmed to solve such problems as mapping complex terrain.

At UAlbany Day on Saturday, Oct. 25, he will give a demonstration on Robotics and Robotic Exploration in Life Sciences Room 143 at 10:45 a.m.

More here:

http://www.albany.edu/news/update_4522.shtml

Building instructions for the robot shown in the UAlbany article can be found on Brickengineer.com

Visit Autonomous Exploration News for information on Knuth’s company Autonomous Exploration Inc.

Visit Robots Everywhere for a general blog on robotics news.

Naughty Nestor

Its fun to build with LEGOs, but Nestor has other plans…

http://naughtynestor.com

Naughty Nestor

Matlab Package for LEGO Mindstorms

I recently received a comment on my post on controlling NXT robots with Matlab that pointed me to the RWTH – Mindstorms NXT Toolbox for MATLAB®, which is a public domain Matlab package that enables one to interface with and control LEGO mindstorms.

The RWTH – Mindstorms NXT Toolbox for MATLAB® was developed as a student project in the Institute of Imaging and Computer Vision at RWTH Aachen University in Aachen Germany.  It provides a Matlab interface with the NXT brick that includes Bluetooth communication, sensor interface and motor interface.  It requires a working Matlab license, of course. 

The package is very easy to set up.  It took me less than ten minutes to successfully test the example programs over Bluetooth.

There are some very nice motor features, such as motor synchronization and speed ramp-up and ramp-down.

I have yet to explore how easy it is to modify or extend the code, but it ought to be a straightforward matter.

The package can be downloaded from
http://www.mindstorms.rwth-aachen.de

Kevin Knuth
Albany NY

Walking LEGO Machines

Walking LEGO Machine 

On Philippe ”Philo” Hurbain’s LEGO site, I found these amazing 8-legged LEGO walkers.  Here you can find a movie of this walker… its very impressive!

These are designed after Theo Jansen‘s amazing walking kinetic sculptures that are powered by wind or solar power. Here are some great videos of these Theo Jansen’s kinetic sculptures.

Here are two computer graphics studies of Theo Jansen’s mechanism.

Enjoy,
Kevin Knuth
Albany NY