Hacker News new | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
LEGO built a life-size, drivable Bugatti from over a million Technic pieces (lego.com)
682 points by cududa 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 151 comments



There is a PDF "fact sheet" explanation here: https://www.lego.com/r/www/r/portals/-/media/themes/technic/...

It says that the car is not built entirely from LEGO parts: there is a steel frame, axles, and many other non-LEGO things in it.


Also, "LEGO Technic" is an ill-defined term. The various kits contain an repertoire of custom pupose-designed pieces whose category appears to be open-ended. It seems that almost any conceivable chunk of plastic whatsoever (or perhaps another material) could be included a "LEGO Technic" kit. Thus if something is built out of "LEGO Technic", what exactly does that mean? It needs to be qualified, like built only with the pieces available in a particular kit available to consumers (as many instances of that kit as required).


Not sure if you are a specialist who is nitpicking or simply not well informed, but lego technic is pretty much well-defined (mostly as "every part present in a set branded as `LEGO Technic`"). See [1] for part lists. The afol community has nerdy tendencies (no judgement, i like it) and everything is pretty much well-defined, even more for crucial questions such as "what parts are valid to use" or "how can we combine them". For the second question see [2] for a presentation on illegal builds.

[1] https://www.brickowl.com/catalog/lego-parts/technic [2] http://bramlambrecht.com/tmp/jamieberard-brickstress-bf06.pd...


How does this address the unique parts that LEGO created for this specific build? For example, they created interesting screw-adjustable beams to mount the curving outer skin.


The part you are referring has been introduced in 2008 and is very standard. It's a linear actuator (large version), ref: https://www.brickowl.com/catalog/lego-linear-actuator-10-15-.... It is indeed a very interesting thing, much more reliable than a pneumatic cylinder and much more compact than a "homemade" linear actuator (screw + gear rack).

The team said they did create new parts, which might seem like cheating, but later they say they were "existing shapes in new colors". To be more precise, they needed semi-transparent version of some parts for the light system, and it's unsurprising that they needed to make them because semi-transparent lego parts are quite rare (since they are used for specific details in lego sets, not for bulk construction). I'm pretty forgiving on such a small sidestep from full purism given the scale and the result of the project.


It's highly probable they'll re-use the custom piece designs in future sets.


Well, of course.

Building anything strong out of Lego is an interesting challenge. I built a speaker stand that's basically a suspension bridge (using fishing line). A piece of wood would have done the job better.


Intersting! Got any pics?



You could go pure lego by replacing the string with technic pieces. Those can be made pretty strong against tension.


> It says that the car is not built entirely from LEGO parts: there is a steel frame, axles, and many other non-LEGO things in it.

So, it's look like correct title for this news should be:

LEGO built a life-size, drivable Bugatti that consist on less than 95% from over a million Technic pieces[0]

[0] https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/news-room/2018/august/tec...


more details here: https://www.lego.com/en-us/themes/technic/bugatti-chiron/med... (including a 714mb zip with images which I am still downloading)

Some facts:

    Over 1,000,000 LEGO Technic elements in total 
    339 types of LEGO Technic elements used 
    No glue used in the assembly 
    Total weight: 1,500 kg 
    Engine contains:
    2,304 LEGO Power Functions motors
    4,032 LEGO Technic gear wheels 
    2,016 LEGO Technic cross axles 
    Theoretical performance of 5.3 HP 
    Estimated torque of 92 Nm
    Functional rear spoiler (using both LEGO Power Functions and pneumatics) 
    Functional speedometer built entirely from LEGO Technic elements 
    13,438 man hours used on development and construction
Edit: images are meh, just press shots. Was hoping for more on how it was built


https://www.lego.com/en-us/themes/technic/bugatti-chiron/med... has more, including an archive of 35 images some of which are detail shots of the wheels & steering wheels.

Though no build detail shots.


Videos on this page do include some build shots. The 8 minute video is especially well done.


"...using 58 types of Technic custom-made elements", anyone have a information on what those pieces are? They really spent an incedible amount of hours and effort on this. 13k+ man hours...


> "...using 58 types of Technic custom-made elements", anyone have a information on what those pieces are?

"56 custom made Technic element types (existing shapes in new colors)"

from https://www.lego.com/r/www/r/portals/-/media/themes/technic/...


According the the pdf factsheet linked in this thread they were just existing pieces in new colors. So the transparent parts for the lights and I imagine LEGO doesn't sell technic in Bugatti Blue.


They sell the smaller version of this car, in the same colors [1]. But many pieces are not available in those colors, e.g. I see a lot of the 3x1 cross-blocks [2] in light azure, which is not in any other set.

[1] https://shop.lego.com/en-ES/Bugatti-Chiron-42083 [2] https://ali1994.brickowl.com/store/lego-technic-cross-block-...


The press they'd get from this is worth the investment I guess.


"So what do you do?"

--"I work for Lego, we're building a life size Bugatti you can actually drive!"

"...are you free later?"


13438 comes out to about 11 people working on this for 6 months. That's a huge commitment.


Theoretically this could cost as much as 1.3k @ 10 cents per hour in a third world country to build, but there is a risk of theft when a piece of lego is worth more on the black market than what people make per hour.

If we move to America, it would only cost ~100k at minimum wage.


Are you allowed to use child labor if it is to build a lego car?


So long as it is Lego and not Stickle Bricks, yes. This is the law at my sister's house where the dad builds cars out of Lego.


I think you mean the block market!

(I'll get my coat.)


Crazy budget, just at $20 dollars an hour that is $~260k. Hope it paid off!


Even at that price, it'd be a deal; the real car costs $2,998,000. [1] And I expect the Lego version would be be safer, too; any car with a top speed of 261 mph (420 kph) seems inordinately likely to end up wrapped around a freeway lamppost.

[1] https://www.motortrend.com/news/2018-bugatti-chiron-review/


I think the top speed of a car is a very weak factor in its likelyhood of being wrapped around a lamppost, as I suspect most people in the US have never driven their car at its top speed.

As a note, I have driven a car at its top speed once. I had a mid 90s Geo Metro with the I3 engine in a 70MPH zone and it had a top speed of about 72 on level ground.


as I suspect most people in the US have never driven their car at its top speed.

I've probably run every vehicle I've ever owned until it topped out (or as close as practical). And I've owned some fast ones. I still think it's a mostly useless metric. Even in Nevada with 20 miles of visibility and empty road in front of you, there's a limit to what you can do on a public road without the odds rapidly stacking against you with each added mph. And the vast majority of tracks don't have a straight long enough to get to 260mph. So lot of damned good that 2.9MM car does you on I-405 at 5:00...or on a track day.

0-60, OTOH...


Maybe. My guess is that a car whose speedometer goes up to 300 MPH (and has all sorts of features to make high-speed driving great) is in the category of "attractive nuisance". It's like telling a kid not to stuff beans up their nose.

Looking at the most accident-prone cars, all the ones I recognize are sports cars: https://www.cars.com/articles/whats-the-most-crash-prone-car...


Not that a single anecdote refuits your point, but my favorite story about the Dodge hell back when it first came out was that the first one that was sold in Texas did end up wrapped around a pole something like 2 minutes after it was driven off the lot.


I assume that it's not only top speed, but high speed as well. Must be tough to control something at 200mph, but not as much at 70mph


Must be tough to control something at 200mph, but not as much at 70mph

Ever driven a Metro at 70mph? I'll take the Bugatti at 200mph, thanks.


Having driven a Smart car flat out at 96mph (as clocked by a police officer, thankfully got a warning and not a ticket) and having done over 200mph (not in a Bugatti, but in a comparably priced car) on a track, I agree, definitely will take the later for safety.


Even at just 200 km/h (~125 mph) you begin to perceive the road narrowing. It's weird.


> any car with a top speed of 261 mph (420 kph) seems inordinately likely to end up wrapped around a freeway lamppost.

any car with a top speed of 261 mph (420 kph) seems inordinately likely to end up in an air-conditioned garage and never driven at all.

(That's typically what happens to many of these 'hyper-cars' - they are treated as long term investments rather than vehicles, heaven forbid you affect the future resale value by actually driving it...).


Plus over 1 000 000 lego technic elements at what I figure an average of ~$0.30 = over ~$300k. So total cost of the car is likely closer to $600k.


I think your average is likely very low. Many of the parts are expensive and offset the ones under $0.30 by a large margin.


How many Bugatti's does this piece of marketing have to sell to justify the cost? I'm guessing not many.


Like the other poster says - this doesn't really sell any cars because they are spoken for as soon as the plans to build one are revealed (ie Bugatti often sells through their entire planned-to-build cars years or even decades before the car is actually built)

Often luxury car companies will refuse to build any more because each additional car built reduces the value of all existing cars.

So the answer is 0. This marketing doesn't need to sell any cars to justify the cost.


That’s a too simplistic approach. Bugatti wants to be able to sell cars at the price point in the future and any marketing and PR they do certainly has to be geared towards that, not selling additonal cars.

Also, I think this is about Lego, not Bugatti (but I’m not excluding the possibility that it’s mutually beneficial).


The real question is how many Lego versions of the car does this have to sell to pay off.


AFAIK, the Chiron production run is only about 60% sold last I heard.


It's the Divo that is sold out but that's an even more limited run.


Probably both one and infinite. Hypercars usually run on +100% margins in an attempt to cover their absurd R&D, and this is the halo model of the hypercar, which usually run at even higher margins, so a +$300k gross off each model sold will not be unusual. Even then these types of cars never make back their investment costs, as they serve more as advertisements of their parent company more so than actual products.


With regards to Bugatti:

“On [the Chiron] project, we get back in the black,” Bugatti’s Head of Production Christophe Piochon told me. The development of the Veyron’s complex systems over its lifetime, which laid the solid engineering foundation for the Chiron, resulted in $1.62 billion in investment costs. “By the end of the Chiron’s run, we’ll be profitable,” Piochon promised.

The Veyron somewhat infamously was a net loss for Volkswagen, despite its massive price. But ultimately its role was to be a halo car for the entire Volkswagen Group, and as such profit on the car itself wasn't such a concern.


I'm pretty sure every Veyron/Chiron built is already sold before construction begins. They only make a tiny number of them and collectors snap them right up.


so the question is, how close to the cost of the real car is it? it certainly is not cheap but I have no means to estimate the costs of LEGOs or custom pieces


in US $, a Bugatti Chiron without extras starts at about $3 million.


3 million is the retail price, not the cost of parts and labor to construct it, which is all these lego-version cost numbers are considering. We can't compare retail prices because the lego version isn't being sold, and if it were auctioned as art, I bet it would go for more than 3 million.

If we wanted a real comparison, we'd need to add the cost of R&D to the production costs. We could divide the R&D for the Chiron by the number of units produced. I'm sure the schematics for the lego version were much less expensive to develop, but that would be offset by there being only a single unit. Furthermore, how do we price in the marginal utility of having already developed the original?


Where does one get these Technic pieces? There seem to be a bunch of pre-made sets but I don't see a generic kit with some motors and most often used bits.



wow its a big url...not trying to advert sell or endorse, but you asked where do i get, so heres one place...

https://www.amazon.com/LEGO-Technic-Power-Functions-Motor/dp...


> images are meh, just press shots. Was hoping for more on how it was built

If you scroll to the bottom of the page there's a few links to "raw video clips" and "how we did it". I'm downloading them now but the names of the files sound like they're exactly what you want.


I can't understand how this was done without glue. Sure they must have used something to secure the initial blocks to the steel frame, but nothing afterwards?


various orthogonal locking schemes ?


The Unofficial LEGO Technic Builder's Guide, by Pwel Kmiec, from NoStarch Press, is an excellent reference on mechanical stress and parts techniques, as well as guides for suspensions, gearboxes, transmissions, steering, and so on and so forth.

I highly recommend it.


I used to know a pdf about the arithmetic beauty of lego ratios. I cannot find it anymore ..


stock LEGO in sets is around 10 cents per piece. technics are more expensive. Looking at Ebay, it looks like 30-50 cents on average. You are looking at $200K to $400K for the 1M Technics pieces. They said the motors cost $70K. Say up to $500K for LEGO including custom elements.


Relative to the retail price, the manufacturing cost of Lego elements are pennies on the dollar. For a $50 starwars set there might be 50 cents worth of plastic. The metal injection moulding dies cost tens of thousands, but one die can mould 120 million basic 2x4 bricks over it's lifetime.

Of course there's a whole other wing to their factories for sorting pieces into sets, they release hundreds of different sets a year which design teams spend months prototyping, they spend huge on marketing, community outreach, and licensing fees, and a non-trivial portion of their manufacturing capacity goes to Legoland resorts and projects like this Bugatti Chiron build. Nonetheless, the Lego group commands Apple-like profit margins.

Still, for the consumer the value proposition on a Lego purchase is very good, because it's value doesn't depreciate over time. In fact, vintage Lego sets have appreciated on average 10% per year over the last decade. Buying Lego is money in the bank, presuming you keep your Lego inventoried and save the boxes, stickers and instructions.


There are two things that really amaze me

  No glue
  Powered by lego electric motors
I can accept that there is important subframe and wheels not in Lego. It's still masterful and essentially a work of art.


a much fairer and better response than the snarky current top comment. who'd deny this is amazing?


i know! that motor pack is awesome.


If this thing is ever in an accident I hope first responders are wearing thick soled shoes.


And the best part is it's modular, so you can reconfigure it into a minivan for your daily commute!


Link to the story without all the Oath tracking: https://www.slashgear.com/life-size-lego-technic-bugatti-chi...


Fascinating stuff and a pretty amazing accomplishment! Good job Lego.

I've built a number of robots out of Lego Technic pieces and the only way to keep them together was often to glue pieces together. There was a MIT interstitial class (6.270) that was pretty influential in the hobby robots scene during the late 80s and one of the fallouts of that was a great building techniques guide that was notes on how to make things like power plants and load supporting beams.

That said, supporting the weight of a person and a car in the air across the distance between the front and read axles would have seemed pretty impossible to me. Now if you looked underneath and there was a row of wheels keeping the middle of the car supported that would not have surprised me. And then a top speed of 20km/h ? That is almost 20' or 6m/second, that is fast for even a small Lego car much less a huge one.


> supporting the weight of a person and a car in the air across the distance between the front and read axles would have seemed pretty impossible to me

Yeah, there is a core steel chassis for that. The main LEGO stuff is the body and engine.


You can find the chassis and other necessary metal parts (wheels) on this how we did it video https://www.lego.com/en-us/themes/technic/bugatti-chiron/med...


I wonder about the size of the step-by-step instruction booklet.


Not to mention the size of the box it came in !


Ikea could sell it because it probably could fit in a car


"Sorry, my car broke down. Luckily I have a spare in the back, give me a few days to assemble it."


for most people, it would probably take a few months to assemble


If you're not a person who's spent much time with legos, it might be hard to grasp why this is considered an "engineering feat". LEGO is a system of modular building after all, right?

However, the kind of weight that 1,000,000 Legos is (in this case, north of 3,300 pounds) means that they had to use pieces, none of which (I believe) exceed 8" in length, to form the support structure of this vehicle. I would _love_ to see the "chassis" of this thing. Probably some gigantic rail structures holding it all together.


https://www.lego.com/en-us/themes/technic/bugatti-chiron/med... has a link to a "How We Did It" video. There are clips of the chassis and some of the parts that weren't Lego. It shouldn't detract from the feat; the motor is a matrix of Technic motors, the door hinges are Technic pieces, and the skin was adjustable with a tool that also was made of Technic parts.


Bummer. It’s honestly a bit disappointing because when it comes to Lego large structures, the support structure tends to be the most impressive part (if done in all Lego).


There is a non Lego support structure (I mean it makes sense, it has real Chiron wheels/tires!). Still quite impressive though.


It should be noted, however, that The LEGO Group is the world's largest tire manufacturer by volume.


What blows my mind is aside from the frame, wheels and batteries the whole thing is LEGO


Not even the frame - "This is also the first-time load-bearing parts were built purely out of LEGO."


That doesn’t mean that all load-bearing parts are lego. It has a steel frame, as the article states.


Exactly. No matter what your engineering skills are, the thickest Lego bricks cannot withstand a grownup man sitting on them.


I regularly sit on creations out of my daughter's duplo.


Put wheels on it and drive it 18mph we see then.


The base of the Super Awesome Micro Project (a LEGO hotrod built a few years ago, who could travel at 20mph) was pure LEGO; only the four struts connected to the wheels weren't.


Was always curious about that. Got any pictures of the build?



No, sorry.


I've built usable furniture out of Lego, including chairs and I could sit on it just fine. It's incredibly strong if you use it wisely.


I saw a metal frame being used to assemble the car in one of the videos but I didn't see them remove it after putting the body together.


Look at the patterns in the body. A seasoned engineer can certainly make do with what he's got.


For some reason the video widgets are unclickable for me on firefox, so here's the direct link to the video for anyone else who might've had the problem

http://legoexternal.23video.com/v.ihtml/player.html?token=96...


Looking at the car it reminds me of the replicators in Stargate SG-1.


There's some nice close-ups in the images.zip downloadable from here:

https://www.lego.com/en-us/themes/technic/bugatti-chiron/med...

The patterns of the bodywork are ingenious and quite pretty as well.


Wow, this is just incredible. Was anyone else hoping there would be a head on collision crash test between the two cars?


You'd probably be torn to shreds in the lego one by the flying pieces and/or die when you try to leave the car and step on the million pieces lying around.


They don't usually perform crash tests with a real driver.


Crash dummies have feelings too. Especially when being shredded by lego pieces.


well, i was certain they wouldn't do that, but yes, i want to see how this car behaves in a real crash test.


I think from that many man hours of work it would be in a museum. Maybe even anti earthquake feature so it doesn't completely break.


Is that the first Bugatti EV?

Joking aside, isn't it weird for LEGO to associate itself with a gaz-guzzler while simultaneously trying to distance itself from fossil fuel-based materials? Does anyone know if there's a commercial deal behind this project?

[0] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/business/energy-environme...


Aside from shape, the LEGO one or the "real" one share other thing: they're still both toys!


It is only a toy if it has no purpose beyond being a toy (see "art"). The bugatti can get me to work and back.


> The bugatti can get me to work and back.

So can a jet ski depending on where you live, but it's still very much a toy.


Not if you live on an island. The same as snow machines are actual commuter mobiles in places in Alaska.


For me, this is even more impressive than a real Bugatti.


I am sure you've read before if all modern tools and factories were to disappear we would need to rebuild almost from scratch because you need more precise tools to build even more precise ones. In that vein:

> There was an extra electric screwdriver build to adjust the cylinder pistons. It is made completely out of LEGO Technic pieces. It was needed because an actual screwdriver has too much torque. The LEGO one uses Power Functions motor, simple gearbox and custom-designed switch.


Which is more expensive?


Good question. A Bugatti Chiron MSRP is about 2.5MM, the lego version could be more expensive, if you add all the bricks, the steel frame, the (real) Chiron wheels (40k for the set, I estimate) and the 13,500 (!) hours of work it could get really expensive, really fast.


I hope they capitalize on it more and produce a few videos with build walkthroughs and engineering behind it. For all its "markety" feel, there's a lot to learn and engage folks interested in building with first principles in mind.


I wonder how the "Functional speedometer built entirely from LEGOTECHNIC elements" works. Do technic pieces have springs/magnets, or they're using elasticity of the plastic pieces somehow...


Probably magnets.

https://www.explainthatstuff.com/how-speedometer-works.html

It wasn't that long ago that all speedos were mechanical.


It could also be optical (various LEGO computers have optical sensors and timers).


> developed using over 1,000,000 LEGO Technic elements and powered exclusively using motors from the LEGO Power Function platform. Packed with 2,304 motors and 4,032 LEGO Technic gear wheels

So in other words, it costs more to build this model in parts (not including 13,000 hours of labor) to build than the original hypercar its replicating?

Not saying this isn’t super cool, but something to keep in mind for perspective!

Update:

Not comparing retail prices, as obviously the LEGO version isn’t for sale, talking about cost of building (not including R&D).


It’s not quite as fast but in my opinion the Ferdinand GT3[1] is a much cooler vehicle.

[1] https://youtu.be/GaQB_tgS7f0


I like how it has a detachable steering wheel just like a real race car. I was wondering if the driver had to just press it onto the studs to install it.


A crash-test video would be nice :)


I want to see what's under the hood!


Unfortunately it costs 10x the price of the Bugatti if you add up the pieces


One assumes they didn't pay retail.


Quite an amazing feat, but an even more amazing marketing campaign.


2,304 little tiny motors!


Unfortunately, the Lego pieces cost more than the original car.


I WOKE UP IN A NEW ... Bugatti?


Elon Musk should take note


Honestly the original source is probably better than the techcrunch link. No ads, more writeup.

https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/news-room/2018/august/tec...


Lego’s writeup neglects to mention the metal frame that serves as the structure for the build.


OK, we've updated the link from https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/30/lego-built-a-life-size-dri.... Thanks!


That writeup mentions it has a "detachable steering wheel and brake pedal", which is surely going to give me nightmares where the Lego steering wheel pops off in my hand and the accelerator pedal sticks to the floor.


I don't know why but Techcrunch is often given priority over the original source on this site...


And no forced consent dialog to instantly close. Thanks!


of which requires flash to view the embedded video, shame they can't embed like TechCrunch did.


That page doesn't require flash to play the video. It's a JavaScript video player using a <video> tag.


that's what was sent to or rendered by your browser anyway


But with no option to opt-out of ad tracking. :-(


honestly, from these pictures at least, the lego version is more beautiful than the original!

i hope they do a crash test with it when they finish showing it off at various events :)


That's actually kind of dangerous to drive, even a very slow speed impact would absolutely shatter and leave the driver not only exposed to the other car/barrier, but also the ground and everything else. People ejected from cars via windows/sunroofs tend to fare very poorly, and the same is true if your car stops being a car all around you.

Good thing it's probably not very fast. Or road legal. Still neat though.


20km/h top speed, driven by an "Official Bugatti Pilot" wearing a crash helmet on a closed circuit.

I think they did their risk assessment.


> Official Bugatti Pilot

Clearly, somewhere down the line I picked the wrong career.


Yeah, that’s how I’d drive it too.


> Still neat though.

Very gracious of you to conclude a trivial nitpick this way.


I’m sorry I didn’t gush over it like you wanted me to. I’ll try better next time.


Good example of poe's law https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law


It is my duty to inform you that the musicians in Band Of Horses are not actually horses.


1.5 tonnes and 5.3 horsepower. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of risk.


On a closed course yes.


I can’t imagine it would ever be driven anywhere else.


Would be far from the dumbest thing people have done on public roads.


the article quotes 20 km/h.


Hence the “good thing”.




Applications are open for YC Summer 2019

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact

Search: