On Aug. 28, National Instruments announced the release of software upgrade 1.1 for its LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics invention system.
Mindstorms is a LEGO-built robotic kit which uses a graphical programming language powered by NI’s LabVIEW. The software upgrade allows for a broader user base as it now supports Microsoft’s Windows Vista, and Intel-based Macintosh computers.
In addition to improved compatibility, NI has improved the NXT brick, the computer brain of the robotics kit, by incorporating a more efficient compiling process. This improved NXT brick allows for improved memory usage.
“You can now either create more programs and be able to store more programs on your NXT, or you can create larger and more complex programs and put them onto the NXT, so it will allow for more sophisticated development or programs to be able to run,” says Andy Bell, k-12 academic program manager for National Instruments.
“(The new software) frees and additional 30 kbyte of memory on the brick itself and shrinks most programs and sound files by around 40 percent,” Bell says.
Feature improvements with the NXT are often based on user feedback, including intelligent scroll available with version 1.1. According to Bell, when working on very large programs, intelligent scroll allows a user to navigate two different parts of the program more efficiently.
The collaboration between LEGO and NI has existed since 1998 and started with the Robolab project software. Now NI has a number of educational initiatives based around introducing technology to a younger generation. The new software for the NXT now ships with newly purchased products, but is also available to download for $19.99.