Sunday, November 7, 2010

Week TechVideo, 2010 #44 - The ultimate LEGO Factory

This year, we had two builders presenting their own "LEGO factories" at "LEGOWORLD 2010" at Zwolle in the Netherlands.
They are quite different among each other and implement a different levels of features, also using quite differentiated solutions. However, both share the same basic idea - A LEGO bricks made machine or production line, capable of autonomously build other small LEGO models".

 These are modern and and more sophisticated versions from some pioneering  LEGO Factories built a few years ago, but at a much larger scale at the time [MINDSTORMS Autofabbrik, MINDSTORMS Aircraft Factory].
The most significant advancement when compared to their predecessors, is the capability to produce many different LEGO models, reading the model description from a digital file (LDD or LDraw, depending on the factory we are referring to).

One was already highlighted here some days ago [1], and today we are going to see the ultimate LEGO Factory, by Martijn Bosgraaf (Dryw Filtiarn).

This is the first video featuring the full functionality of the "LEGO MINDSTORMS - Factory 2.0" project, and it was recorded during LEGOWORLD 2010.

The factory is capable of building virtually anything using the 95 types of bricks available from the built-in warehouse. Models for the factory are designed using LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) and are interpreted by a custom software written for MS Windows. After interpretting the LDD file (model), the software generates a set of building instructions for the factory to produce the model, and sends them to the factory master NXT which distributes tasks among other four NXTs.

At the respective YouTube description, Martijn reports the following data:
  • Warehouse: 95 different bricks with a total of 1520 bricks in stock.
  • Maximum model size: 16 x 22 x 11 (W x L x H, in bricks).
  • Models designed in Lego Digital Designer (LDD).
  • Controlled with 5 NXTs.
  • Total construction time: 4.5 months (Jun-Oct 2010).
    Aprox. 150 hours of LEGO building + Aprox. 100 hours of programming (5 NXT's and LDD model processing software).
  • Total amount of bricks: 25.000 (estimated value).

This is a first teaser from all the Factory production stages, while we wait for a full blown video in preparation, which I should append at this post.
Meanwhile you may also take a look at several videos from partial functionalities, published by Martijn along the development process [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

Because NXT Bluetooth communication from one NXT master is limited to three NXT slaves, in order to arrange a setup with five NXTs communicating, Martijn had to implement a bit more sophisticated setup.
He used a mix of BT and RS485 (sensor port 4) wired serial communication, as you may see depicted at the picture below.

To conclude, lets see just one panoramic view from the whole factory, which I estimate to span about 2m length.

Impressive, isn't it !?


Anonymous said...

Thats a really complex and massive project! he really put a lot of time and effort in it, and the end result is really great! Kudos!

Anonymous said...

This is amazing! :)

I think the LEGO Group should contract the builder of the Factory 2.0 to create a large-scale version that would pick elements for Design byME and Pick A Brick.

Such automation might reduce the costs of those services!

-Toa Of Justice

Al said...

It would surprise me if TLG did not already have such an automated system in place.

This is very impressive, I really like that is has a BIG wearhouse enabling you to build all kinds of things. Very not bad!

Anonymous said...

But how are the parts pushed from the shelves?

Dryw Filtiarn said...

To answer the question about how the parts get pushed off the shelves:
On the back of the warehouse-robot there's a push-rod (behind the warehouse shelves), which travels with the robot and pushes the required part of it's shelf.

TechnicBRICKs said...

From time to time, a TBs post gets spotted at How To Spot A Psychopath. :)
A blog by Dan (Dan's Data) about "pc hardware and gadgets independently reviewed".

It was the case of this Factory post.
Found it funny however, the title he chose to for his post - "Child no longer required". ;D

Well true!... :)

Dryw Filtiarn said...

I noted that the video was added there indeed, through the YouTube insight statistics. Had a good laugh when I read the blog name.

Like you said, the "Child no longer required" is spot on.

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