It has been 10 years since the introduction of Lego Mindstorms, the programmable block structures created by Lego. To commemorate the occasion a division of the company along with Lego enthusiasts at the University of Nevada-Reno are holding H.A.L.E. H.A.L.E. is an event that will launch Mindstorm-based payloads into the Earth’s stratosphere. Teams around the world have been busy for months developing their own machines, which are set to be launched today (July 29, 2008.)
The payloads all have different functions, with some of them using some impressive robotic systems. There has been an immense amount of work put into the machines due to the extreme cold they will travel through. They will be directly exposed to the atmosphere as they hover below specially designed weather balloons. When the balloons are somewhere between 88,000 and 108,000 feet in the air they will burst and the robots will parachute back to Earth. During the journey down they will be taking data and pictures using various different sensors.
Some of the robots are pretty sophisticated, but all of them will be running on Energizer Lithium batteries due to their great durability and light weight. The data they retrieve certainly won’t be anything ground breaking, but the point of this event is to celebrate Mindstorms and it will certainly lead to some positive coverage of the products. Some of the payloads are also going to attempt breaking records, such as the free-fall record down to Earth compared to similar objects. Although the event is on an invite-only basis, there will be constant updates on the internet through which fans can keep up.