I’m excited to share my latest project: converting the LEGO Technic Perseverance set into a fully programmable rover using MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor electronics. This journey wasn’t just about building; it was about reimagining, learning, and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with LEGO.
Here’s the video of the end result. If you prefer watching videos over reading articles, you can watch the full video about the Mars Rover MINDSTORMS conversion on YouTube.
Rebuilding the LEGO NASA Mars Rover Perseverance 42158 with MINDSTORMS
I started with the official LEGO Technic Perseverance set, marveling at the intricate details and design. But I wanted more than a static model. I envisioned a rover that could explore my living room like the real Perseverance explores Mars.
To achieve this, I had to gut the original internals and make room for the MINDSTORMS Robot Inventor electronics. This wasn’t just a simple swap. I needed to ensure that every component fit perfectly without compromising the rover’s structure or aesthetics.
Using Studio, a virtual LEGO building software, I meticulously mapped out the placement of each component. This virtual modeling was crucial. It allowed me to experiment and plan without the risk of physically dismantling the set multiple times. You can download my Studio file with the link below:
Programming for the MINDSTORMS Mars Rover wheel angles
Programming the rover was a deep dive into robotics. I used Pybricks to code the rover for remote control. The most challenging and interesting part was calculating the wheel angles for the rover’s turns.
To understand this, imagine the rover as a tank drive system, where each side’s wheels can move independently. The turn radius of the rover depends on the relative speeds of these wheels. If one side moves faster than the other, the rover turns. The sharper the turn, the greater the speed difference needs to be.
I used trigonometry to calculate these angles, ensuring smooth and realistic movements, mimicking how the actual Perseverance maneuvers on the Martian surface.
After testing the resulting formulas in a spreadsheet, I put them in a Python program in pybricks. The well-prepared formulas needed almost no debugging and worked right from the start. You can download the final Pybricks programs below.
Learning from the Mars Rover Perseverance Engineering and Technology
This project was more than building and coding. It was a deep dive into the engineering marvel that is the Mars Perseverance Rover. By reconstructing and modifying this LEGO model, I gained a profound appreciation for the real rover’s design and capabilities. For those curious about the real Perseverance, check out NASA’s detailed overview here.
Build your own MINDSTORMS Mars Rover with these pictures and videos
Excited to see this LEGO rover in action? Subscribe to my YouTube channel for a video walkthrough of this build, programming tutorials, and more LEGO robotics inspiration. To help you along here are some pictures I took while building!
Transforming the LEGO Technic Perseverance was an incredible journey of creativity, problem-solving, and learning. I hope this inspires you to take your LEGO builds to new heights. Happy building and coding!