Skip to main content

Not sure how to title this one...

Okay, so I received an email a few weeks back from a reader who sent me a picture of his VEX robot with some Technic parts used to create a small basket in front (maybe back?) for holding small items. I was asked if I'd include the picture and his writeup on the blog.

I politely responded that our blog focused on NXT robots (with an occasional off-topic post but we try to keep it related to NXT or at least robotics in general) - "Thanks for sharing... sorry to have to say no, but keep up the good work... etc."

I got a reply back stating that the VEX robot was using NXT parts (he seems to not understand that Technic parts are Technic and not limited to just NXT) and that he couldn't get an NXT robot to complete some challenge map (he didn't specify). He then went on to rip on NXT and saying how VEX was better... blah blah blah. Nothing I haven't heard in emails before. But then... he goes and says this:

"I can drive my VEX robot around and finish the challenge in half the time it took (NXT team name) to do the same stuff because they don't have remote control! LOL LOL LOL"

Hmmm... where was I to begin? I responded politely (again) that driving a robot around via remote control completely negates the "robot" description. I included Webster's online definition:

1. a machine that resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command.
2. a person who acts and responds in a mechanical, routine manner, usually subject to another's will; automaton.
3. any machine or mechanical device that operates automatically with humanlike skill.
4. operating automatically: a robot train operating between airline terminals.

I mentioned the key to me: "operating automatically" and congratulated him. Of coure, I couldn't just let it go completely, so I added "Technically, the NXT team wins the challenge in my mind as their robot completed the challenge without human control."

And this started a firestorm which has since caused me to block that user's email due to some not-so-nice language and unprofessional behavior. No follow-up info to report.

But this brings me to the purpose of this post - do you consider a remote controlled "robot" to be a robot? If something is being manually controlled by a human versus performing actions autonomously, which do you find more interesting - challenging - impressive?

In the NXT world, I'm sure this is bordering on the Mac vs. PC debate, so keep your responses clean and professional. I'm just curious to know what our readers think...

Popular posts from this blog


2023 is the 25th Anniversary of the MINDSTORMS brand. For 25 years, MINDSTORMS has educated and inspired a generation of robot builders, both children and adults. Unfortunately, the LEGO Group decided to end the line on December 2022. Many ROBOTMAK3RS have been passionately involved with the development of MINDSTORMS through the MUP and MCP programs. Even with the newest Robot Inventor line, several ROBOTMAK3RS were invited to submit additional bonus models that were included in the official app. Regardless of the retirement of a major LEGO robotics product line, ROBOTMAK3RS continue to MAKE-SHARE-INSPIRE using all LEGO robotics platforms available to us. Here is the official statement from LEGO. Since its launch in September 1998, LEGO MINDSTORMS has been one of the core ‘Build & Code’ experiences in the company’s portfolio, carrying with it significant brand equity and becoming a stand-out experience for the early days of consumer robotics and leading to current Build & Code

Celebrating 25 Years of MINDSTORMS

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of MINDSTORMS, we take a trip through history. Please also visit ROBOTMAK3RS Community every week as we highlight different projects all through 2023 in celebration of the anniversary. Some of the early history is based on the content shared by  Coder Shah  in our  MINDSTORMS EV3 Community Group . Some of the text and links may have been edited from his original posts for consistency and clarity.  1984 - Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen watched a TV program called "Talking Turtle," where MIT professor Seymour Papert demonstrated how children could control robot "turtles" using LOGO, a programming language he developed. 1988 - The collaboration between MIT and LEGO resulted in LEGO TC Logo in 1988, which allowed students to control LEGO models using computer commands. The video shows Papert demonstrating TC Logo. 1990 - LEGO TC Logo was hampered since the robots you built had to be tethered to a personal computer. LEGO and MIT

Celebrating MINDSTORMS with a Remix Part 1

In honor of the 25th Anniversary of MINDSTORMS, we asked ROBOTMAK3RS to combine a LEGO set of their choice with a MINDSTORMS set. Here is what these five ROBOTMAK3RS came up with.  MINDSTORMS Chess Assistant by Arvind Seshan Overview: When you are new to chess, it can be a challenge to remember which pieces go where. Now, you can use machine learning and LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor to build a tool to help you learn where all the chess pieces go on the chess board. Sets used: LEGO® Iconic Chess Set (40174) and MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor (51515) Review: I really like how the chess set base can store all the pieces underneath and that the board neatly splits in half for handy storage. The chess pieces themselves are very sturdy and well built. My only criticism is the building of the box itself. It was quite difficult to see what pieces to use and since the entire box is made mostly of thin plates, it took a lot of time and patience. I would have liked the storage area to be sliding dra