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Medicine Toys Idle

Lego Mindstorms Used To Make Artificial Bones 42

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists at Cambridge University have used Lego Mindstorms robots to create an artificial bone-like substance. The toy robots proved to be much easier to set up and vastly more economical than more high-tech solutions. Their research is featured in a video for the 2012 Google Science Fair."

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Lego Mindstorms Used To Make Artificial Bones

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  • by KuRa_Scvls ( 932317 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:57AM (#39339553)

    This will make the perfect House episode

    • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

      Not quite edgy/ethically questionable enough.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well, maybe they could steal the Mindstorms?

    • Well, they have half a season left to squeeze it in...
    • Only if they can mistake it for Lupus early on in the show.
    • Me too... This Tuesday on an all-new House [].
  • Love it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @11:58AM (#39339559)

    Love stuff like this..

    Where someone who would normally draw from a mostly vertical market (industrial robotics) draws from a more horizontal one (toys).

    In the time it takes to even figure out who to call about getting information on the stuff they need built .. someone can run to Toys R' Us and get everything they need, and at a fraction of the cost!

    Whoever saw their kid playing with lego and thought this up deserves like a free toaster or something.

    • Re:Love it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @01:13PM (#39340559)

      Where someone who would normally draw from a mostly vertical market (industrial robotics) draws from a more horizontal one (toys).

      The first experimental modern soft contact lenses made of water-permeable plastic gel were manufactured in the 1960's on a machine constructed from the parts of a local (Czech) clone of the Erector/Meccano construction kit (named Merkur).

    • Whoever saw their kid playing with lego and thought this up deserves like a free toaster or something.

      The way that bearded super scientist assembled that's clear he's the kid who played with lego.

  • by hackertourist ( 2202674 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:16PM (#39339727)

    Lego is fantastic for cobbling something together quickly. I've used Lego scaffolding when building scale models, e.g. to hold a wing in the correct position when gluing it to the fuselage.

    It has its limitations (Technic hole-and-pin structures tend not to be rigid, lots of play in geartrains), but still.

    • Lots of fun. Disagree w/ the characterization in the summary that Mindstorms aren't ``high tech'' though.

      I use it to prototype sizing or joint structure for woodworking projects, and to actually make some functional archery accessories such as a fletching jig, spine tester and cresting machine.

    • Re:Rapid prototyping (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @01:12PM (#39340551)

      The Mindstorms handle lots of the mundane details in robotics, like motor loading, sensor debounce, etc. You can add on your own sensors pretty easily too. I used v2 extensively to prototype stuff. For $300 you just can't beat the kit. Sure it's got limitations, but you know that going in. For a first-run, it's orders of magnitude cheaper than a 3D printer or machining parts.

      FWIW, I'm a Professional Electrical Engineer.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought if I broke a bone, I could just snap it back together. But it is cool how they are using the Lego robots.

    • by kd4zqe ( 587495 )
      I think it's more about creating an artificial bone to custom specifications that can be used in the creation of other items. As they stated, bone has a great strength to weight ratio, similar to the way spidersilk is stronger than steel fiber at the same scale. Nature is a hell of an engineer. It might take millions of years to get something right, but the field trials yield awesome results... and it never leaves Beta. Kinda like Google...
  • Megablocks (Score:5, Funny)

    by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:40PM (#39340079)

    Can't wait for them to make artificial bones out of megablocks and use it for medical applications.

    It'll cost less than half the price- but your arms will keep falling off.

  • by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:58PM (#39340339)

    This gets me wondering if Lego shouldn't open up a technical division that specializes in buildable, cost-effective robots based on Mindstorms for corporate and scientific use. Tighten up the tolerance and offer parts in materials other than plastic, like aluminum or stainless steel. Obviously they wouldn't be competing with industrial robots, but I can imagine that these things could fill quite a few needs and pricing would be attractive, particularly to academia.

    • The Meccano construction kit, which was metal, had a "No. 10" set which was really aimed at universities and engineering companies. I once used one to build a test rig for a UL-type test in which a hot wire had to be pressed against an electronic assembly with a controlled force. It took a couple of hours to build something that would have taken a week for the machine shop to fabricate.
  • Did we really just have an article posted where the only link points to another Slashdot article?

  • As I watched, I noticed that the top actuator is not connected to anything ...

    It took a couple of viewings to realize that the actuator on top is just a counter-weight, and that the two actuators lying on their sides turn the crane and the spool.

    I want to show this to a group of Boy Scouts using Mindstorms to do the Robotics Merit Badge, and I wanted to make sure that it wasn't stop-action or something, and I'm pretty sure they'll notice that there's no cable attached to that actuator.

  • Bring Back Mechano! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @01:21PM (#39340685) Homepage Journal

    During WWII, when Alexander Flemming was developing penicillin, they couldn't get equipment, so one scientist brought his old Mechano set from the attic and used it to construct a shaker to agitate the flasks that they used to grow the mold.

    Mechano has had its ups and downs since then (mostly downs), and when I tried to buy a set a few years ago for a friend's son (actually I wanted to use it myself), the current sets were a shadow of their former self. I hope they will or have come back.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They have choke able parts! won't somebody think of the children?!?!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    well, almost. back in the 80's I needed a robot to pick up a moving object on a semiconductor fab conveyor belt. Rather than get a section of that expensive belt in my lab, I realized that Lego trains moved at almost exactly the same speed, so I used them instead to develop the 'swoop and pick' the robot needed.

  • & I am deadly serious about this. It causes great problems; it's complicated. Do not send squirrel bones. Thank you.

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin