Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) and LEGO Technic construction partnered with a team of kids to design a futuristic, autonomous construction machine. The LEGO Technic Volvo Concept Wheel Loader Zeux set is the digital prototype for a real autonomous machine, and is scheduled for release in toy stores in August. The collaboration also led to number of potentially revolutionary patents.

With the first self-driving cars already tested on roads, designers at Volvo CE in Sweden and the LEGO Group in Denmark worked to find new ways to increase safety and bring a more human aspect to the artificial intelligence (AI) in big construction machines.

A focus group of children helped in the creation of Zeux, offering feedback on early drawings and models that led to the development of new features. Two main features that the group decided on were the scout drone and the adjustable “camera” mounted on the roof of the vehicle, called the Eye. The Eye will show exactly where the vehicle’s “attention” is directed, which means it can make “eye contact” with humans and acknowledge their presence.

Workshops in Billund, Denmark; video meetings; and exchanges of concept sketches and sketch models allowed room to test ideas throughout the development process. As a result, users will see unique features, including an extendable counterweight, raising and lowering chassis, four-wheel steering, and many other ideas that fit all LEGO Technic design values.