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Lego tower-building robot could reach space, theoretically

An ambitious robot that builds a never-ending Lego tower could hypothetically reach space if it had enough blocks and time.

Lego tower builder
This robot eats Lego modules for breakfast. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Plans are already under way to build space elevators, high-tech structures that could move people and cargo up to a space station using cables made with carbon nanotubes. Lego builder Hknssn would rather use little plastic bricks to get there.

Hknssn designed an NXT-controlled robot that takes premade Lego modules and stacks them together, over and over, endlessly until it runs out of material. The builder describes it as, "A machine that stacks modules and locks them into place, theoretically all the way up to space. Assuming that Lego is magical and violates the laws of physics."

The robot is built with a selection of servo motors, eight touch sensors, and a color sensor. Hknssn shares some fun facts about the gadget, the most fascinating being that it would take 7,432 years of nonstop work for the robot to build a tower to space at over 62 miles above sea level. The bot works at a top speed of about 0.2 inch per second.

The robotic "space elevator" requires some human assistance to feed the modules into the machine's clutches. Every time a new tower module is added, the device crawls back down to fetch the next section. It's an entertaining viewing experience, especially once it's sped up to show the action flying along. Be sure to stay tuned for the joke ending.

(Via The Brothers Brick)