Lego is an amazing toy. Sure, the kits are fun, though seeing what ingenious builders have created is awe-inspiring. We’ve gathered some of our favorite Lego machines.
Some emulate real machines using Lego, while others are creative builds. From working clocks to full sized cars, Lego bricks prove their versatility, and builders showcase their imagination and ingenuity. Let’s explore!
This is a Roomba like cleaning robot that can pick up objects on the floor (like Legos!) The design features rails on either side that funnel debris into the sweeper mechanism where a belt fitted with rubber flaps that lift pieces into a bin.
What is striking about this build is that it looks like it should be a Lego kit itself. With a minifig driver and functioning lights, it looks like an industrial street sweeper.
Seven motors drive the fins and move the vehicle around, as well as a functioning claw arm for picking up larger items.
LEGO Sorting Machine
The build uses more than 10000 Lego bricks and uses 15 motors. Legos are dumped in the large input bucket and sorted into one of 18 bins. The Universal Lego Sorter uses AI to recognize Lego bricks based on 3D models. It is smart enough to classify and sort pieces it has never seen before.
From the input bucket, parts are moved along a conveyor belt and dropped onto a vibrating chute, which separates the parts into an even flow, where they are dropped into a scanner. The trick is to arrange the parts so that the scanner can see them one at a time for identification. A Rasberry Pi sends the images to a more powerful computer that runs a neural network to analyze the images and classify the pieces. This message is sent back to the sorter, where a series of conveyor belts and gates route each piece to the appropriate bin.
Lego Mindstorm Chess Playing Robot
Chess playing AIs make the news every so often, so it’s only natural that we see a Lego chess playing robot.
To be fair, it’s an interconnected system that analyzes the movements of the opponent’s pieces and determines the next move. The moves are relayed to the Mindstorm NXT 2.0, which carries out the instructions and moves the chess pieces on the board.
There are three motors used in the build; one each for X, Y, and Z axis movements.
Building instructions and parts list are available in the Youtube video.
Related Post: How is Chess a STEM activity?
LEGO Sudoku Solver
The sudoku solver moves forward and scans the puzzle line by line using a light sensor to identify empty cells and determine what numbers are in which positions.
A great deal of the processing goes towards analyzing the images for each cell and cleaning them up to determine the values. You can see in the video how the original scan goes through a process of thresholding, segmentation, and thinning to take a nearly unreadable starting image and translate it to a specific number.
The Mindstorm brick at the center of the build performs a backtracking algorithm to solve the puzzle, which seems to be the most straightforward part of the whole process. It then uses the pen to fill in the puzzle column by column.
Guitar Playing Lego Machine
This is a pretty cool application of Lego Mindstorm. There’s two parts to this guitar playing machine, just as a guitarist has two hands. One presses the strings on the fretboard to form chords, while the other strums.
This one has been programmed specifically to play “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men. There are 4 chords in the song, (Am, F, C, G) played in their open voicings . The video includes a handy chord chard complete with down and upstrokes on the strumming so you can follow (or play) along.
The playing does drift a bit here and there, and the mechanism itself is louder than the guitar itself in the video – especially during the faster passages. Still, it’s Legos playing an actual guitar.
LEGO Mindstorms Digital Clock
Mechanical timepieces make use of interlocking gears for movement, which is a great way to make use of Lego gears. Here, the gears ad movement mimic a digital clock face.
Each clock digit is displayed as a 3×5 grid with black and white bricks depicting the numbers. The layers rotate to form the new numbers, and the : toggles between black and white to indicate seconds.
Two Mindstorms bricks communicating sync up through Bluetooth. One handles timekeeping and movement on the minutes, while the other handles the movement of the hours position and the seconds.
LEGO Crane – Liebherr LR 11000
This Lego machine is a remote controlled 1:24 scale replica of a working crane. It’s all Lego pieces except for the rigging and printed pulleys. The brains of the build use 4 EV3 Mindstorm bricks. Nine motors move and drive the crane. Seven light sensors are used to help the crane measure travel distance.
In this video, the crane lifts a chair from the ground floor to a second floor balcony.
Lego Builds to Break an Aluminum Beam
Can plastic break metal? This is a great example of design and scientific method. The premise is can Lego Mindstorm pieces and 2 motors be used to bend an aluminum beam (spoilers – YES!)
We see many unsuccessful attempts and builds along the way, trying different methods of torque. We see gears slip and strip. We see Legos pop apart. Most of all, we see a journey.
LEGO NERF GUN (Maverick REV-6)
Lego and Nerf seems like such a natural combination. This cool Lego build recreates the 6 shot Maverick Rev-6 out of Lego bricks. It’s a great design using Legos and a few springs. This looks great, and appears to have smooth action and good power.
LEGO Lord of the Rings Pinball
How about a full size playable pinball machine? Not impressive enough? Let’s make it Lord of the Rings themed. This looks great. There are 2 ramps, ball drops, targets, and a multi ball release. Watching the video of game play, it looks challenging.
LEGO Batman Pinball Machine
This build contains over 7000 pieces and features 39 Batman Villains in a playable pinball machine. It has a motorized ball return and a working rollercoaster.
When I think of Leo, “textiles” usually is not the first word that comes to min. Yet, we present to you the Lego Loom. This loom is made from Technic pieces with a Mindstorm NXT as the brains. The video does a nice job of showcasing the various aspects of the build and how they contribute to the function of the loom.
It looks like it can turn our scarves, which I’d imagine could be stitched together to make larger pieces. Still, this is a great build and a testament to the versatility of building with plastic bricks (and a tiny computer.)
LEGO Milling Machine
This one is a Lego Lathe that carves foam cylinders. A computer does the heavy lifting, sending instructions to a Mindstorm NXT brick to control the movement and coordinates for cutting.
LEGO Car Factory
Here’s an assembly line made from Legos that constructs Lego cars. Legos building Legos; kind of Meta.
LEGO Go-Kart (XXL)
Okay, this one isn’t something you can just build with your spare Lego Bricks (these bricks are HUGE!) A Lego go kart that kids of all ages (i.e. adults) can drive is awesome. My kids want one. I want one. Check it out here:
Lego vehicles are cool, though life size ones are next level cool. Check out this life size Lego go cart. Now, these aren’t normal Lego or Technics parts; these pieces are scaled up and super sized (which is why it’s called the XXL Lego Go Cart!)
The parts are custom 3D printed. Most is printed from PLA, with some of the gears being done in PETG, which is a bit harder material. There are ‘normal’ electronics and motors used in the build to power the cart as opposed to using motors from Lego kits.
Check out the video to see the details. They test drive the go cart around the 11 minute mark, and it’s great to see these guys giggling like little kids.
Here’s a full size go kart built from normal sized Lego bricks. This build used about 8000 LEGO pieces. The 32 motors provide power to carry a load of about 150 lbs. The video shows a fairly moderate cruising pace and doesn’t mention anything about how fast it goes, so we can assume you won’t be breaking any land speed records. Still, this is a cool modular design that would be a fun build and fun ride.
Life-size Car – Driveable LEGO Bugatti
This one is amazing. It’s a full size, functional, and driveable car built from Lego Technic parts. The engine is made of over 2000 Technic motors. The lighting and real spoiler work as on a real Bugatti. Instead of trying to make the car from bricks, they constructed a mesh skin out of the Technic parts and shaped this over a frame. The build took over 13,000 person-hours to complete and over a million parts (all of which were assembled by hand.)
The size, scale, and detail are truly impressive, not to mention the engineering involved.
Lego Care Gets Pulled Over
Of course Mr. Beast has a Lego car video. It’s a fun clip, showcasing big Lego-type pieces built around carts (and duct-taped together.) It’s fun to see the two Lego cars cruising around town getting reactions from people. That is, until they got pulled over by the police.
Wrap Up: Lego Machines and Ideas for Lego Builds
It’s truly amazing what talented and creative people can do with simple plastic bricks. Some of these builds are incredible. The patience and planning (and sheer number of bricks) involved are astounding.
Watching some of these Lego builds in action, I wonder how “play” like this could lead to careers in engineering, design, or robotics (and frankly, the Bugatti was a result of some prime engineering.) Legos aren’t just for kids. There’s some serious talent here, and some ambitious building. Hopefully this give you some great Lego ideas for your next project.
Which Lego machine was your favorite, or what is the most incredible thing you’ve put together with Lego?
Related Post: If you love Legos, be sure to check out our roundup of Space Lego Sets!