National Instruments (NI) has added the capability to use LabVIEW system design software to program the LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 robotics platform. The LabVIEW Module for LEGO MINDSTORMS, a free download is available for education and retail. The software helps students, engineers and hobbyists alike create programs that communicate with and control the EV3 brick with LabVIEW. Because LabVIEW has connectivity with thousands of sensors, devices and systems, users of all experience levels can quickly design complex and powerful robotics projects, which makes this platform ideal for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
“I use LabVIEW in my computing classes because it’s industry standard software, but also because it’s accessible to such a wide range of students, including those who have difficulty with reading and writing,” said Rob Torok, mathematics and robotics instructor at Claremont College. “The added EV3 support means my students can continue using LabVIEW in their robotics projects, which is great.”
The software included with EV3 products from LEGO is created by NI and is also based on LabVIEW. Users can connect to the industry version of LabVIEW for additional functionality with LEGO EV3. LabVIEW is the same programming software used in virtually every industry to power engineering challenges such as the Red Bull Stratos supersonic free fall project and the CERN Large Hadron Collider. Students who learn LabVIEW are using the same programming tools used by the world’s most innovative scientists and engineers.
Chris Rogers, a Tufts professor who worked with The LEGO Group and NI to develop ROBOLAB—the language that inspired NXT-G and LabVIEW for LEGO MINDSTORMS—still uses a robotics approach to teaching science and math in his classrooms. “I use the LabVIEW Module for LEGO MINDSTORMS to start my robotics students off in the world of LEGO where they can see success easily and quickly, and then smoothly move them into the more advanced world of Linux microprocessors, FPGAs and even robot operating systems,” said Rogers. “We work with local high school students to help them develop complex code—from PID controllers to using different architectures for parallel thinking.”