Engineering students design a lock picking robot

March 10, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog
Engineering students design a lock picking robot

( -- Crimes are usually committed by humans. As it turns out, we are not only making crime happen on our own, but we are designing robots to help us in our extra-legal endeavors. I don't know what the students at the Olin College of Engineering are up to in their spare time, but they have taken the time to design a robot that picks locks for them. This robot can not only pick a lock, but it can find the combination to any Masterlock lock in under two hours, without resorting to a chisel and hammer. If you have one number things will go much quicker. You won't get to class in time, but you can do a stealthy pilfering with it, if you have at least half an hour of uninterrupted time to work with.

The is surprisingly simple in its design. It all starts with a clamp that is designed to hold the lock in its place. The combination of a thumb-screw, a puller, and a solenoid-controlled grabber then proceed to yank the loop of the lock and give a shot at opening the . If this first step is not successful a stepper-motor will engage, turning the knob and dials in various combination's until it finds the correct one. This hardware, combined with companion that is known as LockCracker, will keep an eye on what works and what does not. When it finds the correct combination it will actually display the code for future use.

For now the device it too big to be used by home invaders, so you will not have to deal with it in the near future. No commercial applications have been given at this time, and the device is not expected to go on sale.

Explore further: The first molecular keypad lock

More information:

Related Stories

The first molecular keypad lock

January 8, 2007

How can defense or intelligence agencies safeguard the security of top-secret data protected by a computation device the size of a single molecule?

New research provides hope for childhood cancer sufferers

July 16, 2007

Scientists investigating drug therapies for children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) have presented new data demonstrating for the very first time that a small molecule called ABT-737 can increase the effectiveness ...

New research provides hope for childhood cancer sufferers

July 20, 2007

Dr Richard Lock, Head of the Leukaemia Biology Program at the Children’s Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, Sydney, along with collaborators from the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and University of Southern ...

A chemical 'keypad lock' for biomolecular computers

March 24, 2008

Researchers in New York are reporting an advance toward a new generation of ultra-powerful computers built from DNA and enzymes, rather than transistors, silicon chips, and plastic. Their report on development of a key component ...

Simple Robot Climbs Through Tubes (w/ Video)

May 12, 2010

Last week was the IEEE's International Conference on Robotics and Automation, held in Anchorage, Alaska. One of the most interesting robots was a simple -- and fast -- bot designed to climb easily through tubes.

Hackers crack high-tech locks

August 1, 2010

Security maverick Marc Tobias showed hackers on Saturday how simple it is to defeat some of the world's top high-tech locks.

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Mar 10, 2011
Interesting, but if it just tries all combinations through brute force, there is probably a better way to do it. Perhaps you can have the tension mechanism "feel" for any give in the lock as the correct pins or whatever a padlock uses, are aligned. Just like a professional thief probably wouldn't try all combinations, but rather listen with his ear.
not rated yet Mar 10, 2011
don't they already have auto pick guns? sounds like a waste of time
not rated yet Mar 11, 2011
"don't they already have auto pick guns? sounds like a waste of time"

Yeah they work great on a "Rotary Combination lock"

1 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2011
"don't they already have auto pick guns? sounds like a waste of time"

Yeah they work great on a "Rotary Combination lock"


combination is pointless when take so long,may as well just use bolt cutter.
not rated yet Mar 11, 2011
There are already tools for rotary combination locks as well, however this is a more elegant solution. This wouldn't leave forensic evidence of a break-in, which is quite handy if anybody inspects the lock.
not rated yet Mar 11, 2011
Great student project! Often the best educational student projects are wacky yet relatively simple things like this.
not rated yet Mar 15, 2011
mmm... a well-placed strike with a regular hammer pops those things every time.
not rated yet Apr 10, 2011
Pretty good project.

Creative, too.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.