Behold the Lego Great Ball Contraption (GBC), dreamed, designed and built by a 21 year-old Japanese college student who goes by the name of Akiyuki, (Akiyuky if you want to search him on YouTube).
Taking over 600 hours of work, this robotic wonder is the perfect blend of engineering and art as the 31 meters of 17 intricately built stages hypnotically and seamlessly operate with the sole existential purpose of moving tiny plastic soccer balls and basketballs in a perpetual loop.
It was designed using Lego Mindstorm, which is a line of Legos bundled with various programmable CPUs, sensors, and motors to create fully functioning robots. Akiyuki’s creation utilizes a large sized robotic arm, but that is just a drop in the bucket of whimsy that is the GBC.
This contraption is a clicking, clacking, cacophony of claws, clamps, conveyors, catapults, carousels, cranes, carts, cogs and coils that would make Willy Wonka and Pee-Wee cry on each other’s shoulders in shame.
But the best way to experience this machine is to watch the video for yourself. Better get a snack first though, it’s a long trip. You’d probably have to watch it again to catch everything too.
If you’d like to learn more about the GBC you can visit Akiyuki’s blog. It’s in Japanese but has many videos and photos outlining the various components.