The 7 Most Ridiculously Advanced Machines Built Out of LEGOs
Think back on the coolest LEGO creation you ever made when you were a kid. Maybe it was a tower, or a colorful White House, or a robot that broke the second you tried to make it move. If you were lucky, you got your hands on a LEGO Star Wars kit so you could make a decent looking TIE fighter or something. Our point is, whatever your proudest LEGO creation was, it's going to look like a crap mountain compared to ...
A V-8 Engine (That Runs)
OK, that looks like it would be a pain in the ass to make even if it was just intended to look like a V-8 engine made out of LEGOs. But this sucker has all the moving parts, including pistons and a drive train, and clocks an impressive 1,500 rpms. Watch it in action, it's insane:
You can make one yourself, if you like -- all you need is about $400 and to devote about an hour a night to the project for, oh, the next year or so.
He's working on a Maserati, but the LEGO airbags present a real challenge.
This is the work of Dutch LEGO nut Barry Bosman, and all it took was 2,862 parts, 300 hours, and far too much patience for a regular human. Oh, and it runs on air, if you were wondering how you combust gasoline in something like that without it exploding into a mass of molten plastic.
Bosman made it so he would have something to take to LEGO events, and we are assuming the people who attend these things are suitably impressed. But maybe not, considering that they may also see ...
A Fully Functional 3D Printer
So clearly the goal of modern LEGO enthusiasts is to rub our faces in the fact that they can make things out of LEGO that we couldn't build even if we were allowed to use any material. For instance, state-of-the-art 3D printing technology that can carve out three-dimensional objects from a set of computerized instructions:
Which of course means using them for dicks and bongs.
A guy named Arthur Sacek built this one that can carve a block of floral foam into a perfect real-world representation of a model. And the only non-LEGO piece of the machine is a small drill bit that meticulously grinds away at the foam, fleck by fleck, in order to reveal the chiseled visage hidden below. If he's lucky, Arthur ends up with a bas-relief head or another cool design. If he's unlucky, he adds the creation to the pile of dicks the LEGO printer already arbitrarily printed.
"Yes, The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite movie. Why do you ask?"
Arthur's 2.0 printer effort has a badass robot-handed lathe that carves foam in full 3D. So instead of three different motors working like slaves to produce a picture, Arthur's got a rotating pig spit that holds the foam as the drill carves away. We're not sure what's scarier -- the idea that Sacek is clearly paving the way for a LEGO version of that laser that sucked Jeff Bridges into Tron World, or that the resulting sculptures look like animated Disney heroes.
Sadly, no amount of LEGO craftsmanship can make that haircut look good.
Massive Automated Assembly Lines
So already you can see that while you weren't paying attention, the LEGO scene got downright serious. Which brings us to LEGO Mindstorms.
This is a joint LEGO/MIT project that put programmable software and LEGO robots in the hands of kids who may never know the simple joy of making a cross out of two long bricks and telling everyone it's an airplane. And while our idea of "LEGO Wars" meant throwing tiny bricks at each other from behind our blanket forts, today kids all over the world are competing against each other in LEGO robot competitions.
So what sort of things do they come up with? How about rows of cold automatons that will surely take our jobs one day? Look at this shit:
That is an assembly line that automatically sorts LEGOs and is itself made of LEGOs. That's the creation of Chris Shepard, and it uses light and color sensors to know when different colored LEGOs come onto the belt, which puts his robots ahead of toddlers in the smarts department. The four arms move in three directions, driven by air and OCD to sort the blocks into their proper bins.
A task so difficult that no human child has ever done it correctly.
And they only get more sophisticated from there. Here's another LEGO sorting factory commissioned by a company to demonstrate their manufacturing system. It sorts by size, color, and shape, and once a container is full, it is taken away and replaced with an empty one. It's like an industrial metaphor for reincarnation, which is probably what they were intending all along.
We're guessing asshole LEGOs get reincarnated as one of those shitty neon circle pieces.
But probably our favorite has to be this one, which uses about 7,000 separate LEGO pieces to fold and launch paper airplanes.
We must have one of those. We must.
Functional Roller Coasters
Once again, if somebody just made that track out of LEGO and nothing else, we would declare them a genius, or at the very least, unemployed. When LEGO enthusiasts like Adam Tucker make fully working model roller coasters, all we can do is stare in awe:
For authenticity, the bottom has a wiener LEGO guy waiting for his friends
after wussing out halfway in line. His name is Craig.
The best part about Tucker's ride is that it never ends. The carts are on an infinite loop of awesome or awful, depending on how you feel about imagining yourself on a never-ending roller coaster.
"The hard part was engineering LEGO-scale vomit."
Another LEGO fan wasn't content to let tiny invisible people enjoy roller coasters without the rigmarole that accompanies going to an amusement park, so when he built his LEGO ride, he added the crap the rest of us have to put up with: turnstiles, lines, stairs, and itty bitty acne-scarred roller coaster operators who make you wonder if this was the best way to spend $50 and a day off.
On the plus side, everyone is exactly tall enough for this ride.
All the fake waiting pays off, because the fake LEGO patrons (who coincidentally look like the Village People) get to experience an inverted roller coaster with a corkscrew and a loop. It's more impressive when you realize that this is all one guy's design, not a kit or a deity or a wizard who magicked up tiny roller coaster realms to lord over.
If you look closely, you can totally see two LEGO teens recreating that scene from Fear.
Guns (and Yes, They Really Shoot)
After a robot and an effigy of the mean kid on the block, a gun is usually the third thing a kid with a box of random LEGO bricks makes. More often than not, the "gun" is nothing more than a long brick attached to a stack of smaller ones and requires the builder to make gun noises with his mouth. But if he works hard and devotes his whole life to increasingly elaborate/dangerous LEGO projects, maybe he can come up with this Gatling gun rubber band shooter.
Here it is in action, unleashing 104 rubber bands in a hellish, stinging fury.
And 104 pieces of LEGO shrapnel if you don't snap them tight enough.
As menacing as this is, at least it has some element of innocent, childish fun to it. Meanwhile, another guy made a LEGO replica of a Heckler & Koch UMP 45 submachine gun, which carries a 15-round magazine and has a folding stock. It actually shoots the bricks from the clip, in case you're interested in maiming and confusing your victims at the same time.
The scope on this one really helps thread the gap between the floor and your dad's bare foot.
Oh, and this is only one of the many, many lifelike guns this guy makes. So if you want to get banned from the airport but don't have the background credentials necessary to get a real gun, check out Jack Streat's work.
"NERF can suck it."
A Cloning Device
The good news with everything on the list so far is that there's probably no danger of the LEGO machines becoming sentient and taking over the world. That part of the story is over, because someone has foolishly invented a LEGO replicator. Using the aforementioned Mindstorm software, the machine scans LEGO cubes made from different LEGO bricks, then uses its brainpower to make the exact same cube. That's right -- it's a LEGO creation that builds LEGO creations. We are through the looking glass, people.
"Why the fuck does this thing keep calling me 'Dave'?"
Here's the software trying to decide if it wants to rebuild the cube or go for a Terminator instead:
"Honestly, that last movie has me questioning my commitment to this whole Skynet thing."
Here's the building part of the machine putting the correct LEGOs together:
And here is the clone of the original, meeting its twin for the first time. Brothers and sisters are coming, and soon we'll all know their wrath (and love).
"Soon ... soon."
If that somehow failed to impress you, another machine one ups the "LEGO awareness" factor by scanning ANY object and then using a computer-aided design program to determine which bricks are necessary to rebuild it in LEGO. It's like a child LEGO prodigy, only made out of LEGOs, rendering human children obsolete. It's only a matter of time before we start noticing loved ones and co-workers who don't eat and snap back together if they fall down the stairs. It doesn't help that the laser scanner looks as menacing as hell:
"No, Mr. Lamb ... I expect you die."
A Robot That Solves a Rubik's Cube in Seconds
Hey, remember Rubik's Cube? Of course you do, you don't live in a hole on the moon. The fun thing about Rubik's Cubes is that most of us forgot about them around 20 years ago. But most of us aren't mad geniuses who can't let a thing go, unlike the guys who created a LEGO robot whose sole purpose is to solve the Rubik's Cube as fast as possible. Even faster than an obsessed human. Are you ready for the solve time? 5.35 seconds. Behold:
This is doubly impressive when you realize that the human record setter was allowed to analyze the cube before trying to solve it, while the Cubestormer II does its analysis and solving simultaneously, and it still beat the human record holder. It's the LEGO version of IBM's Deep Blue, although it doesn't appear that the human in this case threw a hissy fit and called Cubestormer a cheater.
"Call me a cheater and we'll see how fast I can rearrange your face instead of a cube."
Those blurs aren't a cool Photoshopping effect; that is Cubestormer twisting the cube at blinding speed. The LEGO contraption is linked to a Samsung Android phone and uses an app written to interact with the LEGO NXT computer to solve the puzzle. It also displays the current configuration on the screen, because when a robot is smashing a world record, it needs to show off what it's thinking just to rub our inferiority in our faces.
For more ways humans continue to amaze us, check out 6 Mind-Blowing Things People Built in Their Backyard and 7 Mind-Blowing Structures Built in Secret.