Lego Mindstorms EV3 ($350) is a long-awaited update to the Lego robotics kits used by many schools. The idea, Lego says, is to bring snap-together robots into every home.
The brain of the kit is a computer called the EV3, which is about the size of a bar of soap. Powered by 6 AA batteries, it comes with the promise of smarter, faster, more sophisticated robots, some of which can be snapped together in less than 20 minutes.
Lego says that apps and tablets will play a big part in the kit, both for providing the instructions for building a model and for controlling a robot using a wireless Bluetooth connection.
The computer has 16 megabytes of memory and 64 megabytes of storage — quite a step up from the 512 kilobytes in the original Mindstorms kit from 1998. The starter kit includes motors, a touch sensor and an infrared "seeker sensor" that measures the distance to objects.
Lego says the new kit, which was introduced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will work with the parts in older kits. It is expected in stores in the second half of 2013.