Children from across the world join forces to move the world’s biggest hauler using only LEGO® Technic™ elements and engineering ingenuity
Billund, Denmark (September 15, 2021) – On 12th June this year, 35 young engineers from all corners of the world opened up their laptops to join another video call. This call was different though. The bright young minds were waiting with bated breath to see whether they had beaten all odds and cracked a fiendishly difficult task that would outsmart those double their age.
For over three months, four teams of children from the U.S., Sweden, Japan and Nigeria had been collaborating across time differences, language barriers and video calls to solve a challenge of incredible proportions – could they move the world’s biggest hauler, a Volvo A60 Articulated Hauler, 50 meters, using only LEGO® Technic™ elements.
The challenge was set by engineering experts from the LEGO Group and Volvo to encourage the young students from FIRST® LEGO® League teams to continue to collaborate and develop their STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills and confidence despite not being able to meet in person.
As members of FIRST LEGO League, a global robotics program that prepares students for real-world STEM careers, the children were used to meeting, competing and working together to solve hands on learning challenges, but this was the first time the children had been tasked with collaborating when separated by 20,000 miles.
Each team was sent the 2,193-piece LEGO® Technic™ 6x6 Volvo Articulated Hauler and given three months to find a way to build a prototype strong enough to move the 43,000kg machine, using just the LEGO elements included in the set.
The teams soon worked out they needed to create a pulling force of 10,000 Newton to move the hauler and spent hundreds of hours developing, presenting and refining the prototype . After hours of deliberation and problem solving across borders, the children sent precise blueprints and instructions to the engineers at the LEGO factory who brought their plans to life.
On the day of the challenge, the 35 children watched nervously via livestream as the engineers at the LEGO Group’s test center in Kladno set everything up and fired up the children’s build ready for action. After their initial attempt at the challenge had to be abandoned after a fire broke out, the teams held their breath as they geared up for their second attempt. The 728,168 LEGO Technic elements used started to whirr, sending signals to 1,920 LEGO Technic Control+ XL motors. Slowly but surely, the hauler’s wheels started to move – taking just 30 minutes for the children’s creation to pull the hauler along the 50m track.
“It’s mind-blowing that children so early in their engineering journey managed complete such a complex engineering task so well. We had to put an additional 45 tons of rocks inside the hauler to make it more of a challenge for them! The motors in the LEGO Technic 6x6 Volvo Articulated Hauler set are designed to move a weight of around 3.6 kg but the Volvo A60H weighs over 11,000 times more than this. Even with my 20 years of experience, I would have felt daunted by the task in hand.” said Libor Udržal, Master Builder and Engineer at the LEGO Group.
“The children showed incredible resilience and tenacity. Despite their plans literally turning to ashes on the first attempt, the teams showed that with collaboration, teamwork and a good dose of creativity, you can always find a way to succeed. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t moved to tears by the pride and sheer joy you could see from the teams when they realized their hard work had paid off” said Frida Jönsson, Designer at VOLVO.
During the challenge, the young engineers were paired with designers and engineering experts from the LEGO Group and VOLVO who mentored them, supported their STEM development and encouraged them to use their boundless creativity to overcome what may have felt like insurmountable challenges at the time.
“One of the biggest things I learned was that you can achieve a lot more than people would expect, especially when you work with different people with the right ideas. I find it really cool that we managed to complete this [challenge]. This project shows that I can work with other people to create things that make impossible concepts, possible.” commented Maya, one of the First LEGO League Students that took part in the challenge.
Research from the LEGO Group found that over 8 in 10 parents (83%) think technology skills will be among the top skills that employers will look for in the future. For over two decades the LEGO Group has been helping children of all ages develop STEM skills and confidence in a fun, playful way with products such as the LEGO Technic Control+ range, LEGO® MINDSTORMS® and LEGO® DUPLO® Coding Express.
The LEGO Technic Control+ range helps children aged 11+ build some of their favorite vehicles, like the Volvo A60 Articulated Hauler, for real using LEGO Technic elements. The easy-to-use LEGO Technic Control+ app then mirrors the cockpit controls of the vehicle to provide a fully immersive play experience that helps children learn about how real vehicles function.
To watch how the children triumphed in the ultimate engineering test, visit: https://lego.com/themes/technic/move-it
Notes to the Editor
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• 728,168 LEGO Technic Elements used
• 1,920 Control+ XL motors used
• 100 tons of Volvo A60 Articulated Hauler and rocks moved
• 50m - the distance the children were challenged with moving the Volvo A60 Articulated Hauler
• 2,000 hours - the time it took LEGO engineers to turn the children's blueprint into a reality
• 10,000 Newtons - the pull force the children created using LEGO Technic elements
About FIRST® LEGO® League
FIRST® LEGO® League introduces science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to children ages 4-16 through fun, exciting hands-on learning. Participants gain real-world problem-solving experience through a guided, global robotics program, helping today's students and teachers build a better future together. In three age divisions, taking place in over 100 countries worldwide, students apply their skills in an exciting competition while building habits of learning, confidence, and teamwork skills along the way. For more information: www.FIRSTLEGOLeague.org
About Volvo CE
Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) is a leading international manufacturer of premium construction equipment, and with over 14,000 employees, it is one of the largest companies in the industry. Volvo CE offers a wide range of products and services in more than 140 countries through its global distribution network. Volvo CE is part of the Volvo Group. The Volvo Group drives prosperity through transport solutions, offering trucks, buses, construction equipment, power solutions for marine and industrial applications, financing and services that increase our customers’ uptime and productivity. Founded in 1927, the Volvo Group is committed to shaping the future landscape of sustainable transport and infrastructure solutions. The Volvo Group is headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, employs 105,000 people and serves customers in more than 190 markets. In 2018, net sales amounted to about SEK 391 billion (EUR 38.1 billion). Volvo shares are listed on Nasdaq Stockholm.
About the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group’s mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow through the power of play. The LEGO System in Play, with its foundation in LEGO bricks, allows children and fans to build and rebuild anything they can imagine.
The LEGO Group was founded in Billund, Denmark in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, its name derived from the two Danish words LEg GOdt, which mean “Play Well”. Today, the LEGO Group remains a family-owned company headquartered in Billund. However, its products are now sold in more than 130 countries worldwide. For more information: www.LEGO.com