Wednesday, June 19, 2013

LEGO version of NASA's Curiosity rover wins company approval

If you have a child that is entranced by the red planet, Mars, this could be the ideal gift for him or her. On Tuesday, it was announced that LEGO has green-lit a LEGO version of the rover portion of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, the Curiosity rover.

The new product comes via LEGO CUUSOO, which is a website started by The Lego Group and CUUSOO, its Japanese partner. Started in 2008, it allows users to submit ideas for LEGO products which may -- or may not -- turned into commercial LEGO sets.

CUUSOO, FYI, is usually roughly translated from Japanese to either "imagination" or "wish." Once a proposal is submitted, it goes up for a vote, and those models that accumulate 10,000 votes move on to a review by LEGO for possible commercial release.

One of the Curiosity rover’s designers, Stephen Pakbaz, who goes by the username "Perijove" on the CUUSOO website, submitted his design for a LEGO version of Curiosity in November of 2011. It wasn't until August of last year that the model garnered enough votes to qualify for LEGO review.

Pakbaz said in his CUUSOO proposal that his goal was to design “a LEGO model that was as faithful to the actual rover as possible in terms of accuracy, details, and mechanical function, while remaining at a reasonable size and cost.”

It's unclear what that cost will be. LEGO did not announce a release date or a price for the model.

Curiousity was one of three projects that won CUUSOO review this summer. CUUSOO rejected a giant Sandcrawler. Although applauding its size, it said that LEGO's ongoing Star Wars association meant it could not approve the project.

The third, based on the video game "Portal," is still pending review.

CUUSOO's announcement regarding the Curiosity rover LEGO model can be viewed, embedded.

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