New robotic toolkit enhances engineering learning



Lego Mindstorms NXT shown as a screenshot incorporates NI LabView technology for any user level.

National Instruments will release the NI LabView Toolkit for Lego Mindstorms NXT this fall, allowing third-party software and hardware developers to create native blocks for the software. Mindstorms NXT, the next generation of the Lego robotics invention system, became available earlier this month and is targeted to children 10- to 14-years-old. NI made the announcement at NIWeek 2006 in Austin, TX.

The Lego Group and National Instruments developed the new software to include a simple drag-and-drop, graphical interface best suited for its targeted demographic. With the new LabView toolkit, more advanced Mindstorms NXT users now can use advanced graphical programming tools available in LabView, while remaining accessible and intuitive enough for an audience it has never before engaged– children.

With the toolkit, users also can interact with the NXT robot while a program is running. By dropping a LabView control, the toolkit can send data to the robot and influence the currently executing program. By dropping an indicator, the value at that point in the program is sent back to the PC and viewed in a regular LabView front panel.

Developers of third-party sensors and other hardware add-ons for Mindstorms NXT can use LabView to create native blocks that program and control their hardware for use in Mindstorms NXT software.

“The LabView Toolkit for Lego Mindstorms NXT makes customizing add-ons for the NXT extremely easy and encourages users to expand the Mindstorms experience,” said John Barnes, president of HiTechnic.

LabView 7.1 and 8.20 customers can download the beta version of the toolkit from beginning fall 2006. For more information, visit .

For related news from NIWeek, see:

NI introduces LabView 8.20, 20th anniversary edition, today at NIWeek

—Edited by Lisa Sutor , Control Engineering , contributing editor

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