I’ve finally got my hands on the next generation of Lego programmable bricks, the Lego Mindstorms EV3. It has a number significant improvements over the NXT shown in my previous posts. Most notably for me is the improved processor and the fact that it actually runs Linux, not only that but Lego have shared the source code to the firmware as well! Bravo Lego!
It has only been out a short while and already it has been embraced by the community and a surprise corporate interest from none other than Oracle themselves! I wanted to try Java on the last brick, but read that it had a number of limitations and caveats. Not so with the EV3, Oracle have provided a fully fledge Embedded version of their JVM for use on the brick, more on this in a moment! Thank you!
I also of course needed to get the brick talking to the internet, once again the EV3′s improvements gave it big step forward from the rather large third party Wifi receiver I found for the last robot. This time, its time to plug in the worlds smallest Wifi USB dongle, the Edimax EW-7811Un (note this does not work with the standard Lego software currently)! Check it out its tiny, ideal for cloud enabling robots!
Finally a Micro SD card slot gives the ability for extra storage, as well is the ability to create a bootable partition on it. Meaning you don’t have to replace the standard firmware to get started, just build an appropriately formatted and configured SD card image (not quite as easy at present as you’d imagine, but worth the effort!) and the device boots from that if installed.
This is exactly how the clever developers at leJOS have provided a toolkit to run the Oracle JVM with the appropriate configuration to run regular Java code! With a little help from Juan Antonio Breña Moral and his website on EV3 programming. I was also soon up and running with a pretty slick Eclipse based devleopment environment and a deployment script taking the otherwise heavily clicky task of pushing the code to the device down to a matter of a few seconds using an Ant script. Next step Salesforce connectivity! I’d settle for nothing less than using the Salesforce Streaming API for this robot, and I was not to be disappointed…