Video: We’ve all seen the primary school science experiment where sticking a couple of electrodes into a potato produces enough current to power a small light bulb. But engineer Marek Baczynski took that experiment several steps further, building what could be the world’s first autonomous potato — and the ultimate housepet.
A single potato doesn’t generate a lot of electricity, but if you collect that slow trickle into a capacitor — a sort of battery — you get enough of a charge to power a pair of electric motors. After sitting motionless for a quarter of an hour, Marek’s upgraded potato, which he named Pontus, was able to drive in a quick short burst for around 8cm, or a top speed of around 7.5m per day. Slow, but your cat probably moves even less from sunup to sundown.
Marek eventually added the ability for Pontus to randomly choose a direction it could drive in when charged up, and aside from just spinning in circles, at times it would find sunlight to park in, or seemingly follow him around the room.
The potato never needed food, water or bathroom breaks, and didn’t once attempt to shred a sofa. In other words, it really was the ideal pet. And when it eventually reached the end of its life, an hour in the oven resulted in a healthy and nutritious lunch. Try that with another pet that isn’tf a chicken, and you’ll have animal rights activists breaking down your door.