A mess of unsorted Lego bricks. Yikes!
For parents, children, and Lego aficionados everywhere, it’s a good day to be alive.
Everyone loves to build with Lego bricks, but no one likes the cleanup so using AI technology, Jacques Mattheij, a tech-savvy Lego-lover since childhood, found a way to make sorting Lego pieces fun and simple.
In a blog post, Mattheij told the tale of how he came to own two metric tons (more than 4,000 pounds) of the colorful bricks, which ultimately inspired him to build an automated Lego sorter. So with some “python code and a bunch of hardware to handle the parts,” Mattheij set forth on his journey to sort and ensure the beloved mini-figs get a home of their own.
Essentially, the blocks are dumped into a hopper a large funnel-shaped machine fed onto a conveyor belt, passed by a camera to be scanned, and finally, pushed through a nozzle into a bin.
Mattheij quickly came across a few setbacks in the process. Aside from some Lego bricks being too large to fit under the camera at once, he found that in more than 38,000 shapes and 100 possible shades of color, the bricks occasionally become damaged or discolored, which can stall or lead to inaccurate sorting.
After weeks of toying with the AI, Mattheij made significant improvements and ended up with a prototype that he calls “a hodge-podge of re-purposed industrial gear,” held together with the help of “copious quantities of crazy glue.”
While it’s not perfect, it’s still pretty damn cool. Now if only someone could create an AI with the sole job of picking Lego bricks up off the floor so people never have to endure the one-of-a-kind pain of stepping on them ever again.