Making a Robotic Model of a Robot

Here's a story about a model you might recognize, told by Marc-André Bazergui & team.

This robot transforms from a cube shape to a fully articulated well proportioned look alike of the famous Disney/Pixar WALL-E®. The first public appearance of this robot was at BrickWORLD Chicago, 2011.

The transform process is controlled via a 2 NXT remote console. Each NXT on the console is the master to 3 NXT slaves. A total of 6 NXT bricks are found in this mega built. This allows to control 17 NXT Servo Motors and a LED array of 16 pairs of LED for the eyes. A series of Touch Sensors are also used as Limit Switches. The whole thing was programmed using NXT-G v.2.0. The total weight of this robot is 25 pounds or 12 kilos. What is really special about this project is that it is a group effort.

My team consists of LEGO MINDSTORMS Fans from all around the world:

Benoît Genest (aka Benny3000) a 15yo TFOL from Quebec City designed the arms and helped a lot with prototyping the head and pushed me every step of the way.
Maxime Santerre (aka TiMax) a 17yo TFOL from Rimouski, QC influenced the design of the lifting mechanism and neck design.
Andreas (aka NXTWallet) an AFOL from the Netherland was part of the initial brainstorm and key motivator in building this transforming WALL-E.
Martyn Boogarts (aka robotica008) famous MCP from the Netherlands has provided me valuable assistance in fine tuning my NXT-G program.

Many other AFOL and TFOL have encouraged me throughout the building process: Xander, Joey Kelly, Jildert (rammacc0) and megamindstorms101 to name just a few. This robot also makes use of Andy Milluzzi RS485 block and HiTechnic's new PID Motor block.

The background:
It all started in 2008 when I purchased the #8275 Bulldozer Technic set, and at the same time saw a poster for an upcoming Disney/Pixar movie called WALL-E®. It just called me I had to make this thing out of LEGO using the new large thread and parts from my new set. WALL-E NXT was born. The video I posted on YouTube went (almost) viral and even caught the attention of the Mindstorms team. I guess you could say I was at the right place at the right time! LEGO contacted me and asked if my robot could be part of the exhibit for the 10th Anniversary of LEGO MINDSTORMS. I will never forget that day! WALL-E2 was simply a remake of WALL-E1 now living in Billund. (WALL-E Version 1 Photo by Mike Brandl)

Soon after I decided to build a bigger and better version, I used many PF motors all controlled via one NXT Brick. WALL-E3 was presented at the FIRST Championship in Atlanta. It’s also about that time I answered a call for application to be part of the MCP team and got accepted in this very special group.

This called for a new challenge, Could I get rid of all PowerFunction in my model and make it only from NXT hardware? This new version would be presented at the LEGO WORLD in Zwolle in the Netherlands at the MINDSTORMS booth. I thought it would be funny to call it ZWALL-E4. Keeping the same form factor I managed to cram 3 NXT’s and 8 NXT motors inside, even the EYE were lit up using the new Colour sensors as LEDs.

At the same time, YouTube user NXTwallet impressed the world with his fascinating first ever transforming WALL-E model using LEGO MINDSTORMS! To my big surprise he showed up at the LEGO MINDSTORMS area at LEGOWORLD 2010 with his creation. We started to discuss and share idea for my next version.

Could a large scale WALL-E be made to transform using only NXT hardware (i.e. no RCX or PF motors and no 3rd party components) and look as close as possible to the animated character?

PROJECT W.5 was born. I started building a team and we used many online tools to try and work together even though separated geographically. The given time frame for WALL-E5 was to be ready for BRICKWORLD 5 -- It still needs work but as you can see, thanks to my team -- the initial mission was a success!

About Bazmarc:

Marc-André Bazergui "bazmarc" came out of the LEGO "dark age" in 2006 when he got his first LEGO MINDSTORMS RCX set. From that day on he has worked closely with the LEGO Education reseller in Quebec building robots for trade shows. He is also an active member of, a non profit organization whose mission is "To be an active promoter and partner in all robotic competitions in Quebec".

Bazmarc lives in Montreal, Quebec / Canada. He is one of the founding member of QuéLUG (Québec LEGO User Group) and part of the MINDSTORMS Community Partner 4th generation program. You can find him attending most LEGO exhibitions throughout Quebec when he is not attending major events worldwide.