LEGO Mindstorms is a series of robotics kits released by LEGO that began in 1998. A very successful robotics platform with its various incarnations being used in schools worldwide, the LEGO Mindstorms series started with the Robotics Invention System, which used a programmable brick called the "RCX" at the center of all its functions. Since the release of the first Robotics Invention System kit, there have been many expansions and additional robotics kits released beside it over time, among them the Robotics Discovery Set, which used a pre-programmed brick that could receive instructions from an RCX called "Scout", and the Dark Side and Droid Developer Kits, both of which used the solely pre-programmed, single-motor "Micro Scout" brick. The original Robotics Invention System was re-released twice, in the form of a 1.5 version and a 2.0 version.
In 2006, a completely new robotics kit in the line was released, called LEGO Mindstorms NXT. This kit included new and improved sensors, as well as a brand new programmable brick, known as the "NXT Intelligent Brick". On release, this kit was unable to work with its predecessor, but developers, both 3rd party and in-house, eventually changed that altogether, with an "infrared link" sensor to enable communication with the older RCX brick or even the Power Functions IR receiver, and converter cables designed for the RCX sensors and motors (or the Power Functions motors from the Technic line, if you were so inclined) eventually being released for purchase on LEGO's online store. This kit also got a new 2.0 version.
In late 2013, yet another robotics kit was released as part of the line's 15th anniversary, called LEGO Mindstorms EV3, which improved on nearly everything the NXT kits before it had done, although for now it seems it doesn't communicate with NXT, and support for the RCX and its sensors/motors has not yet been implemented. Regardless, many of NXT's assets, such as motorsnote and most sensors can be used by the EV3 programmable brick.
LEGO Mindstorms provides examples of the following tropes:
- Art Evolution: In a sense. The original Robotics Invention System kits and expansion kits released for them used hybrid Technic/classic LEGO elements for construction, with the connecting studs being commonplace. Starting with NXT 1.0, the series went full-Technic, often resulting in sleeker-looking robots as the blocky studded elements became rare in the kits.
- Artificial Brilliance/Artificial Stupidity: Puzzle-solving robots are pretty much required to be the former to function properly, but most other robots can run the full spectrum depending on your programming strategies and goals.
- Awesome, but Impractical
- Some people actually build analog clocks out of these, and sometimes they actually work to some extent. Really cool in their own right, but considering battery life issuesnote , neither you nor the guys who made them will likely actually use these to keep time in the long-term.
- Particularly with the EV3 and NXT kits, anything made with the intent to be some sort of "spy bot" isn't likely going to work out that way in practice because the motors are too loud. They might still make good camera rovers, however.
- Do-Anything Robot: Kinda. Actually achieving this in a single robot would be quite a feat in and of itself. This more applies to the kits themselves, rather than any specific robots you can build from them.
- Letters 2 Numbers: EV3 robots are all over the place with this in their names, typically using 3 where normally one uses the letter "e". This trend started with the sample robots, and fans have gotten in on the act since.
- Mundane Utility: Some people create robots that do things like tell them what time it is, or clean their floor Roomba-style. The former is probably a case of "because I can" because battery life on the programmable bricks makes functioning clocks unfeasible, but the latter can be considered a practical application...
- Real Robot: Literal interpretations of the trope name aside, EV3's "EV3RSTORM" is like a toy version of this, at least when he has his "blasting bazooka" modulenote attached to his medium motor arm.
- Robot Buddy: Yes, you can make these. Not quite to the degree where they have artificial intelligence perhaps, but at the very least, you can build something that will follow you around if you want. Or maybe play a game against you. The potential is there; it's up to you to make it a reality.
- Rube Goldberg Device: As far as LEGO constructs go, Mindstorms kits and many other LEGO products that use the LEGO Technic system, for that matter - by themselves have the potential to produce robots like this due to their nature as fully customizable motorized toys that can operate autonomously. Then there are the constructs that are more like this even by actual Rube Goldberg Devices' standards, if expanding the resource pools beyond the individual Mindstorms kits.
- Rule of Cool: Arguably the reason this line got started. Building functioning robots out of LEGO? That's freakin' awesome!
- Series Mascot: The series doesn't really have one, per se, although starting with the NXT kits, humanoid robots such as NXT's "Alpha Rex" and EV3's "EV3RSTORM" started getting top-billing on the box art for each kit.
- Tank Goodness: Most kits come with tank tracks, and as such are often used by at least one of the example robots in each kit they're included in. Kits released after NXT 1.0note even have a Zamor launcher included so your tank-bots can actually fire something at whatever you desire, although ever since those specific elements were released in the BIONICLE line - long before Mindstorms ever officially started using them - people have been carrying over those pieces for Mindstorms use for years.
- Updated Re Release: Twice, for the original Robotics Invention System, and once in its successor's case. Between the two kits' programmable bricks, The RCX was the only one to receive hardware alterations between re-releases; both kits got updated firmware and new sensors for their respective bricks.