One of the scientists at Cambridge University build the Lego robot in order to replace the human in a very repetitive and mindless work using Lego mindstorms. The robot will help in the process of building artificial bones.
The LEGO Mindstorm series of kits contain software and hardware to create small, customizable and programmable robots. They include a programmable ‘Brick’ computer that controls the system, a set of modular sensors and motors, and LEGO parts from the Techniques line to create the mechanical systems.
The hardware and software roots of the Mindstorms Robotics Invention System kit go back to the programmable brick created at the MIT Media Lab. This brick was programmed in Brick Logo. The first visual programming environment was called LEGOsheets, since it was created by the University of Colorado in 1994 based on AgentSheets.
Department of Engineering lecturer Michelle Oyen is leading a team that is looking at ways of creating bone in the lab, primarily for use in medical implants, but possibly also as a building material – bone has a very good strength-to-weight ratio. Their current bone-making process involves taking a base object (such as a bolt), dipping it in a dish of calcium and protein, rinsing it with water, and then dipping it in a dish of phosphate and protein. This routine is repeated many times, for each sample.
Given how boring it would be for a lab technician to have to do that for hours at a time, Mechanical Engineering PhD student Daniel Strange proceeded to construct two bolt-dipping robots out of off-the-shelf LEGO MINDSTORMS pieces. The robots now work throughout the night, to produce bits of artificial bone that are ready by the next morning.