LEGO Boost: Robotics for a younger audience

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Today, ahead of the CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, LEGO has announced a new robotics system, LEGO Boost, aimed at kids too young for Mindstorms. We haven't received any press material and as far as I can tell LEGO hasn't mentioned it in their social media channels yet, but it's all over tech websites, including CNET, Engadget, and TechCrunch.

You can read more about it at those sites, but in summary:

  • System based as opposed to Technic
  • To be released in the second half of the year
  • Will cost $160
  • Set number is 17101, contains 843 pieces
  • Programmed via iOS and Android apps
  • Consists of a combined motor/controller brick and colour and distance sensors
  • Comes with instructions to build five different things out of the box: Vernie the Robot, Frankie the Cat, the Guitar 4000, the Multi-Tool Rover 4 (M.T.R.4), and the Autobuilder.

It looks to be fantastic and something I'm keen to investigate. As you may know I help at a kids after- school computer club for 7-11 year olds and we do find that Mindstorms can be a bit above some of them, and the time taken to construct robots leaves little left to actually program them.

In a video posted on WSJ, which you can watch after the break, you'll get an idea of how it works and its component parts:

From it, here's a bad image of the box:

It appears to utilise a single combined motor/controller unit to which external sensors are attached via a new type of connector:

What other interesting features or capabilities have you been able to ascertain from the sources above?

Hopefully we'll receive more information and press releases later today.

14 comments on this article

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By in United Kingdom,

Would that be a bit like the WeDo sets? I've got one of those somewhere - not tried it recently, I expect it won't run on Win7!

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By in United Kingdom,

I'd love a System based robotics set! I've never been as able to get into Technic in the first place.

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By in United States,

So this was the news that TLG was hinting at a few days ago on Facebook. I think it'll be popular with kids. For Christmas, my wife and I got our 6 year old a robot you can control via an app on a smartphone.

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By in United States,

This looks very good.. I will be getting one for my son, who is wanting to get into programming.
I did get him the Kano kit, but having a real bit of kit to build and program instead of just a display on the screen will make it a lot more interesting...

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By in Australia,

I've heard Mindstorms robotics are 'a thing' at the moment. Lego are onto a winner here.

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By in United Kingdom,

I have a friend with a 7 year old who is into Lego,but is also reluctant to put down his tablet :)
When he does he can be very creative,this set sounds like it might be something to interest him.

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By in United Kingdom,

Ohhhhhhhh. They had me at "robot cat".

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By in Australia,

Reventon: Mindstorms have only been around for the last 18 years... and earlier computer controlled sets for at least 10yrs before that (Apple IIe)
So a little more than a 'moment'! :)

I'm a bit surprised at how large the main brick is.. I work in schools, and the Wedo2 is much smaller..

However I can see it's got at least one built in motor.. possibly two?
So in some respects, it's ancestors are the CyberMaster, and the basic motor/control boxes in the R2D2/ Dark Side Developer kit

The connectors Definitely look like Wedo2, which means no stacking, like you can do in Power Functions.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is 'modern tablet' only... Ipad4 and newer Androids, with BlueTooth4/Low Energy..
My experience with Wedo2 has been a LOT better on our new Ipads, vs Windows 7/8/10.. it's almost like Lego aren't putting much effort into PC Based development any more :(

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By in France,

is it why the lego ideas johnny 5 was rejected?
well, to be fair, this one looks more cute.

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By in United Kingdom,

This is an awesome development, and just in time for my son who loves robots but relies on me building Technic creations that are 'only' remote control.

A great stepping stone up to Mindstorms. BUY BUY BUY!!!

I love that with stuff like this, you just know Lego will get it right, and the interfaces etc will be great.

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By in United States,

Lego for kids? Meh...

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By in United Kingdom,

The robot seems able to run forward, back and rotate - which suggests that there are two independent motors in the base unit. Or one motor and some sort of mechanism to reverse the drive on one side. But two motors is probably far simpler.

There appear to be two connector ports, one on each side of the base unit. This makes sense if there is a sensor and an extra actuator attached to the models shown to make them react to stimuli.

We can see what looks like a colour sensor in that still, but seems to work as a range sensor on that guitar model, detecting distance to the slider. Perhaps it does both.

There also appears to be a new type of brick-block servo motor, visible on the top of the chassis next to the green tractor (the green tractor appears to be built over this chassis). It looks to be about the size of the old 9V cube motors that came with the original Minstorms - though it's hard to tell the actual size as the white block behind it seems to be part of the motor. It could well be 4x6 studs. You see part of it in that still and again briefly as it's picked up off the table.

It looks like the extra motor just has a simple clockwise/anti-clockwise servo action from the way the cat and the robot are animated, and how it's shown connected to the steering of the tractor chassis. The robot head can turn left and right, with a ball-jointed lever to make it tilt and move the eyebrows. The head may well be mounted directly on the servo output.

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By in United States,

Interesting. The lower price tag is enticing too. I have long been interested in Mindstorms, but its hefty price has made it so I haven't bought it yet. While this system is probably a bit more limited, Boost seems to be cheap alternative to Mindstorms.

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By in United States,

Well that figures. I have been hesitant to buy a Mindstorms kit for my 8 yr old because while she understands the coding just fine, the building aspect has been underwhelming for her. I had been patiently waiting for Lego to release something new and more appealing, but still challenging for her. With no news of anything on the horizon, I finally broke down and got her the EV3 kit for Christmas. She was happy with it, but would have been way more excited about this one.

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