Mario's Lego Robotics Archive

Building Robots with Lego® Mindstorms™

In 2001 my brother Giulio and I wrote a book about Mindstorms robotics.

The title of the book is Building Robots with Lego® Mindstorms™, and, as the title promises, deals much more with building techniques rather than with programming.

The book contains three sections - Tools, Projects, Contests - plus a few appendixes. The Tools section describes the main building techniques starting from the very basics, and explains with simple words all the physical principles required to manage gears, levers, pneumatics, motors etc. It talks about: Lego geometry, gears, motors, sensors, modular architecture, typical mobile configurations, pneumatics. It also includes tips about structured programming, simple mathematical tools, techniques to find and grab objects, and introduces to navigation methods.

The Projects section describes about thirty complete robots, which range from very simple platforms that change direction after collisions, to some classic projects like line-following, to much more sophisticated robots designed to simulate flight or to play chess. In the middle there are many different robots, aimed at walking, skiing, playing drum or piano, emulating renowned droids or animals, solving mazes, drawing and writing, watering plants and more. We want to highlight that we did NOT provide step-by-step instructions to replicate our robots. We described them in detail, showing also a lot of pictures from any view, but we leave a lot of work to the reader, who has to find out its own implementation solutions. The concept behind the book is that we want to spur the reader's curiosity and to provide starting points to his own creativity.

The last section talks about Contests. We describe some typical challenges, but more important we explain how attending a contest entails a sort of "paradigm shift": from building a robot that "works" to building a robot "optimised" for a given task.

The book has about 650 pages, contains more than 500 b&w photos and a 8 pages color insert.

It's published by Syngress Publishing.

A few years later Dave Astolfo led a team who updated the book to the NXT Mindsotrms system.

Giulio and I also wrote a chapter each for Lego® Mindstorms™ Masterpieces, a book that describes 7 sophisticated robots, with step-by-step building instructions and code to program them.

Here is a selection of images from Building Robots with Lego® Mindstorms™. Click to enlarge them.

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