The Lego Synchro Drive

[M-byte] wrote in to tell us about the Lego Synchro Drive. Although not a new hack, this autonomous vehicle is quite amazing in it’s simplicity.  Using only one motor turning at a constant speed, this device is able to navigate obstacles by simply turning.

As [m-byte] was quick to point out, this is a simple task using modern electronics, but this drive is made using only Lego Technic parts. The machine’s motion is quite pleasing. When it hits an obstacle, the outer rotating ring stops, allowing the casters on the bottom to switch direction. One could see this invention coming out of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook (minus the Legos).

Check out either of the embedded videos after the break to see this device in action. If you’d like to build one yourself, follow this link for very well illustrated directions.

If you would like a quick refresher on the mechanical side of hacking, check out this Mechanical Engineering Primer.


  1. john says:

    very elegant solution.

  2. ejonesss says:

    great!!! now the site no longer responds


    • BobSmith says:

      That’s because of all the fresh traffic hackaday is giving it. Try back later, it’ll calm down. And, try to relax a little. It’s just the internet, man. It’s not like it’s important.

      Nifty vehicle, by the way. I like that it can get away from walls with no brainpower, just clever gears. Kind of reminds me of this little beetle robots, ran off of two electric motors. It had two antennas, which stuck out of the front of it. When they bumped a wall, they bent backwards a little, pushing a switch, which shut one motor off and left the other running, meaning the robot would turn away from the wall. Very very simple, no computer components. I like simple, elegant robots.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A while back, I made a obstacle-avoiding vehicle that was even simpler. it just used a wedge on the point, the rear wheels were driven, and the front wheel was just a castor, roughly like this:

    (wheel) \
    (castor) \
    ( ) /
    (wheel) /

    it worked OK in most cases, but could get stuck in corners.
    Not as nice or interesting a solution as the one shown here

  4. ejonesss says:

    if your isp does not have any “no servers on residental account” you should be safe running the site from your own connection.

  5. Chalkbot says:

    This is awesome. Nice work.

  6. Conner says:

    Reminds me of the DVD logo that bounces around the screen when it’s paused!

  7. Ben Jackson says:

    This looks similar in principle to a LEGO bot I made several years ago:

    The basic principle appears to be the same: It drives forward until it hits something and stalls the drive wheel. The stalled drive wheel forces the power to rotate the drive wheel instead until it can go in another direction.

  8. MrTaco says:

    Now I want to see someone use this as the ball in a real life game of Pong.

  9. Malikaii says:

    Very clever. And excellent Musical choice in the first video.

    Also, there seems to be an influx of stove-top hacking going on.

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