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Sorting two metric tons of Lego

So Jacques Mattheij discovered that Lego in bulk is much cheaper than Lego sold in specific groupings, and being a nerd with an affinity for inefficiencies in a market, he decided to buy some Lego on eBay:

I figured this would be a fun thing to get in on and to build an automated sorter. Not thinking too hard I put in some bids on large lots of lego on the local ebay subsidiary and went to bed. The next morning I woke up to a rather large number of emails congratulating me on having won almost every bid (lesson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high). This was both good and bad. It was bad because it was probably too expensive and it was also bad because it was rather more than I expected. It was good because this provided enough motivation to overcome my natural inertia to actually go and build something.

So now that Jacques had two metric tons of Lego filling his garage, he set out building a Lego sorting machine using a computer, video camera, air pump, conveyor belts, and machine-learning software:

Once the software is able to reliably classify the bulk of the parts I’ll be pusing through the huge mountain of bricks, and after that I’ll start selling off the result, both sorted parts as well as old sets.

Amazing.

[via The Prepared via Adam Rogers via Emily Lakdawalla.]