Robots conquer LEGOLAND
21 July 2003
Visitors to the LEGOLAND park at Billund find the robot ride simply cool. After all, the Robocoaster is the first ride in the world that they can program for themselves. They can choose from a wide range of ride profiles and speeds, varying from gentle to extreme. Because this interactive and creative participation on the part of the passengers fits in perfectly with the LEGO philosophy, the park promptly invested in ten Robocoasters from KUKA Roboter GmbH.
The earliest entry in the annals of the LEGO Company dates back to 1932 when Ole Kirk Christiansen started to manufacture wooden toys in Billund, Denmark. Since then, his small workshop has developed into one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers and the leading provider of construction toys.
The toys and the company were renamed LEGO in 1934. The name combines the first two letters of each of the Danish words ‘leg godt’, which translates as ‘play well’. The final breakthrough came in 1958 with the invention and patenting of the socketing system, with its limitless combinations, that characterizes the LEGO bricks of today. Since 1960, the company, which now employs about 8,000 people, has manufactured toys made solely of plastic.
Learning through playing
The products and experiences offered by the LEGO Company include the LEGOLAND parks. The educational concept of these family parks is based on the ‘hands-on, minds-on” philosophy which stands for a unique mix of entertainment, creativity, fun, and learning through playing.
The first LEGOLAND park, at Billund, opened to the public in 1968. It quickly became Denmark’s most popular tourist attraction outside Copenhagen. Many millions of visitors have come from all over the world to marvel at the buildings and landscapes in Miniland, and at the exhibitions and shows put on in the park, which contains some 50 million LEGO bricks and provides over 1,000 jobs. This year’s highlight are the Robocoasters from KUKA Roboter GmbH, Augsburg, Germany. Since LEGOLAND uses its own terminology to ensure that its rides stand out from those of the competition, and since the power of the Robocoasters builds up in five stages, the Danes have named it Power Builder.
“When KUKA Roboter contacted us, we were already looking to purchase a new ride,” explains Jørgen Bjerg, the manager responsible for rides and maintenance at LEGOLAND Billund. “The factor that swung the decision in favor of the Power Builder was the fact that visitors can customize the ride experience for themselves. The robots thus fit in with our ‘hands-on, minds-on’ philosophy. When choosing rides we look for ones that are highly interactive. In this respect, the Power Builders differ significantly from other rides where you just get in and sit back passively for the ride.”