Lego’s new line of EV3 Mindstorms robots are fun; too much fun for kids to have all the action. Imagine a Lego kit equipped with a tiny programmable computer and other supplies you need to bring life to any toy brick creation.
So Lego gave employees at Autodesk, Flickr, Facebook and Pandora a Mindstorms robotics kit to see what they could build. The resulting battle between the four San Francisco-inspired bots went down today.
The Flickr team started things off. Their robot resembled Emperor Norton, a resident of San Francisco in the 1800s who proclaimed himself emperor of the United States. He was immensely popular among San Francisco residents and issued his own currency, which was accepted in the city.
The Norton bot approached a smaller bot slowly and then began spewing Emperor Norton bank notes.
Autodesk’s robot was inspired by a more modern figure of infamy: the techie. It looked a bit like Wall-E and clasped an iPhone (complete with Lego Case) in one of its hands.
The Autodesk team set it on the ground and it began milling about mindlessly, tapping at the phone with its other hand.
Suddenly, it made a beeline for my foot. I jumped away, but the team explained it was just too consumed with its phone to pay attention to where it was. The robot began making a run for the feet of other people.
The next two robots tackled the same topic: baseball. Pandora took one Mindstorm computer and hooked it up to two robots. One was the pitcher and the other the batter, pitting the San Francisco Giants against Pandora’s hometown Oakland Athletics, of course.
The Pandora team demoed bots that can pitch and bat autonomously or be controlled by humans. Both bot and human successfully hit a tiny red ball.
Facebook’s robot wasn’t quite ready for the big leagues. It swung at a ball on a tee and then rounded the bases, using red, green and yellow markers to register when it should run straight or turn.
Lego judges deliberated for about 15 minutes and then announced the winner of the robot showdown: Pandora.
Check out the slideshow and embedded Instagrams for photos and video of Mindstorm robotics kits that will go on sale September 1. The snake and scorpion models were a personal favorite.