I was very excited to receive a copy of Laurens Valk’s latest book; The Lego Mindstorms EV3 Discovery Book published by NoStarch Press. You may know Laurens from his previous Lego Mindstorms titles, and if you own any of his previous works you’ll know he puts considerable time and attention into his books . This edition is targeted at the new Mindstorms EV3 kit, and is of the same high quality.

I decided to jump in at the end and build one of the more advanced models; an autonomous roving grabber arm. The lift and grab mechanism on this robot has to be seen in action to be believed – a single motor closes the grabber and raises the arm in one motion. Laurens has done a good job describing how the mechanism works as it is complex. The building instructions, like the rest of the book, and printed in high-quality 4-colour and are some of the best I’ve seen in a book that did not come from Lego.

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What else is in the book? Laurens covers the basics of the EV3 set, and focuses on programming in the graphical language provided by Lego. Along the way he makes the concepts introduced more concrete by demonstrating how they make different robots work. I like how at the end of each chapter there are suggestions for ways to try more advance approaches to make your robot do more.

What about the robots? I’m delighted to see that Laurens has provided building instructions for six (yes 6!) new robots that haven’t been seen before. These are:

  1. The EXPLOR3R, a wheeled vehicle that uses sensors to navigate around a room and follow lines
  2. The FORMULA EV3 RACE CAR, a streamlined remote-controlled race car
  3. ANTY, a six-legged walking creature that adapts its behavior to its surroundings
  4. SK3TCHBOT, a robot that lets you play games on the EV3 screen
  5. The SNATCH3R, a robotic arm that can autonomously find, grab, lift, and move the infrared beacon
  6. LAVA R3X, a humanoid robot that walks and talks

This is a must-have book if you want to learn more about building and programming EV3 robots. Nice work Laurens!