The choice of LEGO blocks is motivated by the following considerations:
a) Low cost,
b) Portability: the setup is easy to take apart and reassemble later,
c) Expandability: extensions, modifications, and added features are easily incorporated,
d) It helps bring a "sophisticated" system closer to "unsophisticated" users by "purposefully" making use of LEGO blocks
ENGINEERING PRINCIPLES INVOLVED
The computer-controlled LEGO factory is intended to demonstrate the following basic engineering principles:
1. Automation: The ability to perform a set of complicated tasks repeatedly with great accuracy.
2. Basics of a manufacturing process: The setup captures the most essential features of a typical manufacturing process, including material handling and operation coordination.
3. Computers as real-time controllers: The computer is used here as a "controller" issuing commands and collecting information from the actual hardware (the factory); it is not just a computational device.
4. Feedback (the use of sensors and actuators): The principle of "feedback" is the cornerstone of modern automatic control. In the LEGO factory, feedback is provided by sensors (e.g., sensing that a part is in exactly the place where it should be) which collect information and feed it to the computer. The computer is then able to process this information and issue appropriate commands implemented through actuators (e.g., starting a belt to move a part from one place to another in the factory).