Imagine this: A towering 21m diesel-powered robot, equipped with a haptic control interface that lets a human operate the machine, as it uses hydraulic cylinders to juggle three 800kg cars (specifically, Volkswagen Beetles) in the air before a rapt audience.
A robot capable of juggling three full-sized Bugs sounds like something from a (weird) sci-fi movie, but Dan Granett has no intentions for his latest project to turn into the comic relief for Transformers 5: 2 Fast 2 Decepticon. No, Granett wants to bring his "BugJuggler" from dream to reality, and is actively seeking out investors to fund what he estimates to be a $US2.3 million project. What started as a way to draw attention to Granett's website, Streetphysics.com, quickly turned from a publicity gambit to a full-fledged fixation for the Berkeley-based inventor.
"My background in NASA and L.A. movie special effects and 35 years of making gadgets gives me confidence that this can be built from mostly off-the-shelf tech," Granett told Gizmodo. He designed the gargantuan juggling robot using a rendering program called FormZ, and enlisted Seattle-based artist Nate Taylor to create the animations.
As for the whole juggling thing, Granett is trying to get himself up to speed before he constructs what would no doubt be the largest juggle-capable machine of all time. "Fortunately, there is a clown troupe next door here in Berkeley and they are teaching me to juggle," he told us. "The designer of a potential dangerous new device needs to be the first to use it in case of flaws."
Granett hopes to raise $US30,000 to build a proof-of-principle, human-sized, working model to attract larger investors for the final product. He estimates that he can assemble the prototype in 60 days, which seems seems very fast but they say positive thinking can prolong your life.
For the big kahuna BugJuggler, Granett anticipates a build time of 8-12 months, if funding comes quickly. "A large team would be assembled. College robot labs would participate in building the computer/hydraulic servo interface," he said.
Granett wants his project to have long-term implications. "The BugJuggler will usher in a new wave of "wearable" agile yet powerful extensions of the human body for work and play," he wrote. Think of it as a Pacific Rim jaeger, but equipped more for children's birthday parties than battling kaiju.
As butt-crazy audacious as this project is, if it comes to fruition, one would imagine it could make a killing on the monster truck circuit (or just malfunction and kill everyone on the monster truck circuit). That's what Granett imagines, as well. In fact, he already commissioned a mock-up of what it would look like:
If you'd like to see the BugJuggler dream transform into the BugJuggler reality, you can inquire about investing on the BugJuggler website.