By Andrew Liszewski
LEGO and its MINDSTORMS and TECHNICS counterparts allow you to build an infinite number of robotic contraptions, but they do require some level of engineering and programming know-how to bring your creations to life. Something most kids don’t have. So to make it easier for kids to hit the ground running/building, the Cubelets robotic building blocks already have all of that intelligence and functionality built-in. In fact each block is a simple robot in and of itself, but they can be combined to create something more complex and interactive than just a building block castle.
The standard Cubelets kit comes with 20 blocks that each have unique capabilities. Like action blocks (drive, rotate, speaker, flashlight & graph), sense blocks (knob, brightness, distance & temperature) and think/utility blocks (inverse, minimum, maximum, battery, passive & blocker) which sit in-between and affect how the action and sense blocks interact. So instead of having to specifically program your creation to behave a certain way, you just assemble the Cubelets you think it will need, and then watch how it behaves on its own. Now obviously you’re not going to be able to build something like a complex Rubik’s Cube solver with the Cubelets, but as a way to introduce kids to robotic concepts it seems like a fantastic learning tool.
Modular Robotics, the company behind the Cubelets, created 100 beta test kits as an initial introduction to the building toy, and even at $300 a set they’re already sold out. But more are in production, and they’re hoping to have them available in the very near future.