And you thought timer-activated coffeemakers were awesome.

Part of the ever-expanding list of things that Lego robots can do, Pancake Bot serves up some tasty Micky Mouse-shaped flapjacks. Its designer, who calls himself Mexican Viking, put a lot of work into this culinary contraption. Judging from his daughter’s reaction, it was well worth the effort.

“Ninety-nine percent Lego, 1 percent ketchup bottle.” Pancake Bot is made entirely of Legos with the exception of the Pancake Batter Dispenser Unit that includes a pair of ketchup bottles glued together, an air compressor and, of course, the pancake batter. Pancake Bot is a 3 axis CNC with a moveable bridge driven by a Lego Mindstorms NXT brick. Another brick controls the air compressor. If the two-axis movements of the dispenser makes Pancake Bot seem like a kind of dripping Etch-a-Sketch, that’s because the program used is a variant of Etch-A-NXT. Part of Michael Gasperi’s Extreme NXT, Etch-A-NXT controls two motors to create Etch-A-Sketch-like bi-directional movements. Check Pancake Bot's yummie pancakes in the following video.

If you’re tired of not getting the ears perfectly even on your Micky Mouse pancakes like I am, you can find the instructions for Pancake Bot here. Mexican Viking even tells you what’s in the batter.

Lego Mindstorms has proven to be quite the robotics kit. Imaginative programmers have built Lego robots that solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than 12 seconds, plays chess and tetris, or moves like a Segway without using gyros. With the growing versatility of Lego robots, Lego Mindstorms has moved from amateur kit status closer to bona fide robotics. We reported recently that Willow Garage released code that links Lego Mindworks NXT to Robot Operating System, a robust library of robotics applications tools. Willow Garage demonstrated the power of an NXT-ROS hybrid by combining Lego Digital Designer and ROS’s 3D visualization display. The result was a robot that could map its surroundings and use those maps to navigate. The potential that ROS brings to Lego Mindstorms will surely be realized in the near future as NXT enthusiasts are no doubt currently tapping into their new awesome resource. I can’t wait to see what Lego robots they’ll think of next.

video: Pancake Bot

Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. He earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore studying gene expression in the neocortex. Following his dissertation work he spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the same university studying brain mechanisms of pain and motor control. He completed a collection of short stories in 2010 and has been writing for Singularity Hub since March 2011.