Today is pioneering British computer scientist Alan Turing’s 100th birthday. Turing was instrumental in developing early computers, and worked during World War II to successfully crack the German Enigma machine. (Sadly, Turing was prosecuted for being gay in the early 1950s and committed suicide soon after, at age 41.)
One of Alan Turing’s key contributions to computer science is the concept behind his Turing machine, “a hypothetical device representing a computing machine” (according to Wikipedia).
Jeroen van den Bos & Davy Landman of CWI in the Netherlands write:
Abstract models are just that, an abstraction of something. In order to really show how simple the fundamental model of a computer is, we have developed a physical implementation of the Turing machine, using LEGO Mindstorms NXT.
Paul (Sariel), one of the greatest Technic builders, seems to achieve the impossible by building a remote-controlled Lego truck capable of hauling a load of almost 20 pounds. Don’t believe it? Take a look at the video below.
Anika Vuurzoon has combined two very different areas of our LEGO hobby and crafted a very cool, animated version of the Friends robolab. I would love to see the NXT used like this in more themes. Way to step it up, Anika!
The BrickIt team in Denmark has built a robotic system to sort LEGO bricks. The “Dynaway Sorting Plant” uses 28 Mindstorms NXT motors, 7 processors, 4 color sensors, and 14 touch sensors, and took over 250 hours of programming time plus 800 hours to build. The result is an amazing system that separates 2×4 and 1×2 bricks by both shape and color and then moves the pallets full of sorted bricks.
Read more about the sorting machine on BrickIt.dk.
Though I prefer to earn my experience, medals, and achievements the old-fashioned way, I never cease to be impressed (and mildly amused) by those who design LEGO robots to accomplish their video game goals.
We featured Mike Dobson‘s first Rubik’s-solving CubeStormer last year. Now, Mike has teamed up with David Gilday to create an updated version that scans the cube, creates a solution, and then manipulates the cube to solve the puzzle.
Read more about all the technical details on YouTube.
LEGO Mindstorms (and indeed regular technic) are a not unusual sight in science laboratories. Unfortunately I’m not lucky enough to need ‘work LEGO’ but I have looked jealously into labs that do. Typically it’s used to automate simple procedures or make quick reconfigurable rigs.
The Kim Laboratory of the University of Washington use LEGO in a novel way: to test fear in rats using the aptly named Robogator. This is certainly the first time I’ve seen LEGO used in neuroscience and I have to admit the idea of testing fear using a bright colourful toy robot is pretty clever and amusing. They have a few videos too.
Physorg have more details and I, in an astounding reversal of the usual, found the link on Boing Boing.
Did you know you can make a 3D laser scanner out of LEGO bricks and a few custom parts? No? Nor did I until today. Did you know you can then use your LEGO model to scan LEGO parts and turn them into 3D CAD LDraw parts to make virtual LEGO models out of? Amazing hey?
Phillipe Hurbaine (philo) is well known for his clever software, hardware, LEGOware and general LEGO-mechanical skill but I have to say his latest work just takes the cake. And as if making a 3D scanner wasn’t enough he has actually used it to model some LDraw parts. I think this is probably the best working LEGO thing I have ever seen.