Stan Simmons, an Associate Professor at Queen’s University in Canada, has developed a free Windows-based LEGO EV3 simulator as an adjunct to his physical robot classes, QEV3Bot Simulator.
Although the LEGO Mindstorms NXT and EV3 Software packages are quite elaborate and extensive, they do not offer users the ability to test their programs in a virtual environment. Various simulator packages have been developed to fill this need, such as the Open Roberta Lab web-based system using the NEPO drag-and-drop programming language.
In addition to supporting text-based programming, QEV3BotSim is visually quite different to Open Roberta Lab. It does, however, feature an image of an EV3 brick that can provide limited feedback to simulate some of the brick’s normal running characteristics.
QEV3BotSim may help you to extend your students from the classic Mindstorms GUI-based drag and drop system to the more industry-based C programming languages, without needing any robotics hardware.
Stan has provided try-me programs on his site to get you started. You can find his page here, along with an application to download and begin programming. Knowledge of RobotC is required to go beyond the sample programs.
Mac users can access the software through an emulator such as Parallels, as I did, and this worked well enough. I particularly enjoyed being able to see dynamic data as the virtual QEV3Bot moved along the fixed virtual Playfield mat, which includes virtual walls and a light source.
Alternatively, QEV3BotSim can also dovetail with Stan’s physical QEV3Bot lessons, which was developed for his Engineering and Applied Science first year university students. More on Stan’s classes, along with his guide to building his QEV3Bot, can be found here.