About a year ago we heard our first information about the new Powered Up wireless control system, incorporated in the latest generation of LEGO City Trains, as well as the App Controlled Batmobile. The Bluetooth controller/phone app interacting with the wireless hub has met with a mixed response, especially in the LEGO railroad modeller community, with concerns about the number of outputs, range and interference from other Bluetooth devices. One thing that was conspicuous in its absence last year was a hub solution that was compatible with LEGO Technic.
Today, we have received news from Spielwarenmesse – the German Toy Fair – of a new control hub to be incorporated in two new Technic sets this year LEGO Technic Control +. One, 42100 – the second half year Flagship model based on the Liebherr R9100 Excavator, the other: 42099, based on a 4×4.
New at LEGO Technic: CONTROL + With LEGO Technic CONTROL +, consisting of new electronic components and associated free app, children and adults experience an even more authentic play experience. CONTROL + enables touchscreen control to provide realistic control and, for example, programming of simultaneous movements of the models. In addition, the app gives vehicle data of the model again.Translated from: https://www.legonewsroom.de/?p=6404
LEGO Technic CONTROL + can be tested for the first time from 1 August 2019 with the replica of the Liebherr R 9800, one of the largest excavators in the world. The LEGO Technic model consists of more than 4,000 parts, seven motors and two Smart Hubs and can execute several movements at the same time. “LEGO Technic CONTROL + gives us the opportunity to create even more versatile LEGO Technic gaming experiences around the physical model. We are delighted to have Liebherr as a partner in one of the first LEGO Technic sets to incorporate this novelty, “said Niels Henrik Horsted, LEGO Technic Marketing Director. The cooperation is also ideal for Liebherr: “The fact that the LEGO Group is offering our Liebherr R 9800 as a construction kit confirms our motto ‘technology that inspires’ on a small scale. The detail and functionality that the model shows are fantastic. We are confident that we will not only be able to inspire LEGO fans but also many fans from our industry, “says Gregory Schuh, Marketing Manager for Liebherr Mining Hydraulic Excavators.
All that follows is based on observation of recent programs within LEGO, and some wild speculation. I have no real idea as to how this will pan out in real life.
Two Hubs/Seven motors: It is probably reasonable to presume that with seven motors and two hubs, that each hub will have four ports each, and that the App can connect to more than one hub at a time.
CONNECTION type: Given the recent commitment to line up connections between systems, I would anticipate the the wired connections use the same plug and socket system as seen in Boost, WeDo and Powered Up Smart hubs, BUT at this stage this is speculation. This would allow compatibility between these different system’s devices and the new Control +
MOTORS: To date, we have seen a number of motors that are compatible in the Powered Up environment: the Boost servo motor, the WeDo M Motor and finally the train motor. While they may not all work simply within the current Powered Up Environment, perhaps the new app will allow more flexible control. Quite possibly, we will see the equivalent of an XL or L motor as well.
FEEDBACK: it is claimed that the new system will receive a degree of feedback – I wonder if this is through sensors, encoders in the motors (similar to that seen with the Boost and EV3 servomotors – where the motor can report the degree of turn back to the control unit) or a combination of both. A video shared of the technic presentation suggests that there is a tilt sensor, that might also provide an indication of the tilt being ‘critical’
The Actual Hub Itself: we are yet to see official images of the hub itself, or read eyewitness accounts of what it contains. We can safely presume that it has a number of sockets, space for batteries and holes for pin connectors. Given the increased load on the system through driving up to four motors, it would be reasonable to expect the new system to use AA rather than the AAA batteries used in the Boost to Powered Up Hubs.
A video can be found online from the LEGO Technic presentation ( audience held hand phone ), and this reveals a some interesting features of the app and system overall:
This looks like an exciting addition to the Technic range, and it will be interesting to see how this fits into the range compared with existing control systems, particularly mindstorms, in the long term. The EV3 has been on the market since 2013 and I wonder if it is due for a refresh soon? Could this be part of that refresh cycle, and does that mean that we are likely to see the loss of autonomous modules, with an ongoing dependence on intermediate ‘smart controllers?’ If so, that could be extremely disappointing.
What are your thoughts, based on the little we actually know about this new system? A step forward? Backwards? or Sideways? Why not leave your comments below, and until Next Time…