Belfast Telegraph

Meccano robot gets Guinness World Records judge in a tangle

By Michael McHugh

A Guinness World Records judge found herself getting into a tangle with a robot in Belfast, where students have built the world's largest Meccano construction.

A total of 11,000 pieces of lightweight metal went in to the 100ft bridge across the River Lagan.

But as adjudicator Fortuna Burke watched on, a Meccanoid GS15 KS Robot started flailing its arms uncontrollably and struck her on the head.

Its robotic arm then got entabgled in the Guinness representative's hair - but fortunately the tussle didn't stop her declaring the structure a new world record.

Professor Trevor Whittaker from Queen's University Belfast strode across it wearing a harness, watched by a crowd of hundreds on Saturday. He said: "We are basically training young people, training them to think, training them to dream, but dreaming alone is simply not good enough, you have to take the thing to another stage, you have to deliver at the end of the day."

The bridge over Clarendon Dock was built by a group of third year civil engineering students and schoolchildren. It has around 70,000 nuts and bolts.

Professor Whittaker said many of the young people who built the bridge had been fascinated by the Meccano toy. He told onlookers that taxpayers had helped fund the construction.

He added: "What you are investing in is the future of our society: without education, without training young people, without exploiting their talents, we simply will not have the structures that we have. Something like civil engineering has basically shaped all of civilisation, all society that is around us."

The bridge was declared open by the Meccanoid Robot, then Prof Whittaker put on a harness, suspended from a crane, and stepped confidently on to the slender structure. He said: "A lot of engineers have probably grown to like engineering through playing with toys like Meccano."

Meccano was created by Frank Hornby in 1898 and billed as "mechanics made easy". It consists of metal plates and wheels connected using nuts and bolts.

Dr Danny McPolin from the school of planning, architecture and civil engineering, who led the year-long project, said: "In terms of the longer pieces, if they're all laid end-to-end I think it would be about 3.8km - approximately 10,000 or 11,000 pieces."

The temporary 600kg structure will now be taken down.

Belfast Telegraph


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