LEGO Black Box Ultimate Useless Machine

LEGO Black Box – Useless Machine aka Ultimate Machine

There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing—absolutely nothing—except switch itself off”  – Arthur C.Clarke

This quote refers to similar device designed in 1930’s, buy futuristic thinkers. Originally it does nothing but flips the switch off once it has been moved out of position. LEGO Ultimate Machine does the same thing with a twist.

In this modern interpretation LEGO Mindstorms intelligent brick has been programmed for this clever interaction and LEGO Technic panels serve as black box. This program includes six different types of response and a couple of evasive maneuvers triggered by proximity sensor.

You can find building instructions, connections and programming here: 

It is a brilliant design and a great show especially for those who don’t know much about LEGO Mindstorms and for those unfamiliar with Ultimate Machine. There is a great surprise effect when a person doesn’t know what to expect.

A bit different take on the same LEGO Ultimate Machine concept:

The Mindstorms set from LEGO allows you to combine traditional mechanics with programming and includes interaction with the environment by using a range of sensors. Proximity sensor in case of Ultimate Useless Machine can sense the presence of anything within the range. Program determines what happens when something gets to close to the sensor. It can then be programmed to react differently depending on the distance form any approaching thing or person for that matter.

The name ‘Useless’ is a tongue in cheek word. The purpose of this machine is simply its existence, for amusement by surprise.