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Monday, August 22, 2011

LEGO Robot Cuts Cake, Not You

If you’ve ever wondered how LEGO bricks could help you serve baked goods, you can wonder no more.

We’ve already seen LEGO contraptions in action, plopping down pancakes in a controlled manner, but what about a LEGO device which can help you serve the food you bake on your own? Designers Bart and Stef decided to fill this technology gap by putting the LEGO Mindstorm NXT to work. The NXT Intelligent Brick is essentially a small, programmable computer which can take input and control motors, meaning that robotics geeks have had plenty of fun tinkering with this “toy” gadget.

LEGO Cake Cutting Robot LEGO Robot Cuts Cake, Not You
The designers of this cake slicer first built some simple towers out of LEGO bricks, with the actual mechanism mounted on top much like a bridge. The NXT can be programmed to cut the number of slices you enter in, computing the angles necessary. The blade appears to be the lid from a can, spinning as it cuts through to the center of the cake, and then sliding back out slowly. Once the blade is clear, the platform upon which the cake rests then rotates the number of degrees necessary to ensure equal slices. The process repeats, and you can see in the video below that it ends up creating 9 perfect slices of cake (each, presumably, of a 40 degree angle). Now, this is an unfrosted cake, which is surely easier to cleanly cut through. It would be possible, if a bit difficult, to frost the cake after it’s been sliced, as the slices still haven’t been pulled away.

In order for this device to properly work on a frosted cake or something like a cheesecake, however, a small addition would have to be made. By just adding a towel or something similar to wipe the blade clean between slices, this could theoretically cut more complex cakes with the same ease as we see it handle this one. If they do decide to expand on this to make it able to handle more cakes or even other foods like pizza, it will be very interesting to see how it turns out. For more fantastic LEGO Mindstorm robots, check out the Rubik’s Cube Solving Robot and the LEGO Bluetooth Printer.