Amazing Lego inventions

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The Independent Tech

YouTube is awash with lovingly crafted Lego stop-motion recreations of pop-cultural staples like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Thriller video. But some bright young things out there choose to spend their lego time on less derivative projects. The weird and wonderful gadgets below were all built from the iconic four-by-two bricks which debuted in 1950s Denmark, with the help of the Mindstorms robotic invention system originally released in 1990.

The Lego knitting machine
Designed and built by Thomas Johnson, the incredible knitting machine is hypnotic, mesmerising and really, really slow. The creator's other projects include a working Lego orrery, built to demonstrate the seasons to his kids, and a remote control truck. This guy must be the best father ever.

The fully-automated Lego Rubik's cube solver
Daniele Benedettelli's Rubik's cube solver uses sophisticated computer algorithims and the Mindstorms software as well as the traditional Lego building blocks to solve the once-ubiquitous puzzle in the smallest number of moves possible. Here it takes just over one minute and 40 seconds; not bad, although the world record for a human being was set by Ron van Bruchem of Netherland last November, who clocked in at a cool 9.55 seconds.

The Lego bottle-opening robot
Towards the less esoteric end of the spectrum, this bottle-opening robot fulfils a far more practical purpose. As slow as it is, it sure beats doing it with your teeth.

The Lego bubblegum sorter
Absolutely huge and unbelievable in every sense of the word, this gigantic piece of kit built at a school in Germany demonstrates how even the most cognitively challenged human can have one over on modern technology - surely it shouldn't take more than nine minutes and a few thousand euros worth of technology to sort a few pieces of bubblegum?