Hey! Do you have millions of dollars in disposable income and love robots? If so, we can be friends! I take checks and Paypal and I have an extensive R2D2 collection for you to admire.
Or, you could buy something wacky, like a 70-foot diesel-powered robot that juggles Volkswagen Beetles.
Dan Granett is the Berkeley-based inventor of the “Bug Juggler” — a giant hydraulic robot you can climb inside and control to throw 1800 lb. cars around — and he’s looking for investors. With an estimated $2.3 million and “mostly off-the-shelf tech,” he can bring his idea to life in 8-12 months. If he raises $30,000, he claims he can build a human-sized working prototype in sixty days. Dan seems… unemployed. Er, ambitious. That’s the word.
He’s almost 70 years old and has designed machines for NASA and Hollywood. And he’s certain that things that are already pretty common in the engineering world like hydraulics, diesel engines, and haptic interfacing will make it easier than you’d think to build a huge clownbot. With the help of artist Nate Taylor, Granett’s BugJuggler team put together an animation of what the Gipsy Juggler might look like:
Let’s all admit that while a giant robot tossing stuff around is totally fun, climbing 70 feet up into a giant robot’s head and tossing stuff around is way better.
Granett himself is not a juggler but apparently has been consulting with Berkeley-area circus troupe ClownsNotBombs.
“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.”
I don’t know how to juggle, either, unless you count balancing the busy schedule of an on-the-go nerd, ha ha ha, ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha, ha. Ha. No seriously but I asked Dan Seitz, resident GammaSquad juggler, what he thinks:
… it’s never gonna work. In order for that “holster” design to make ANY sort of sense, the robot would have to fling that first car at least three to five times as high as the normal throw to have enough time, and it would have to land at precisely the right place at precisely the right time every single time.
That’s why they’re first going to develop an 8 foot robot arm prototype to try and figure out the throwing and catching, I guess. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere near their lab, it could just start raining Volkswagens one day.
Let’s assume Granett has already taken in to account the power needed to toss a car, the irregular shape of the car, and the programming necessary to control a giant robot’s response to the way an automobile falls out of the sky when you throw it over your giant robot head. If that’s the case, then I hope there’s a bored billionaire who likes to read Uproxx, because I really need to watch the test-day livestream of a juggling robot dropping cars all over some abandoned quarry in northern California. Maybe they can teach it to swear, too.
Anyway, here’s my favorite rendering from the BugJuggler website:
Can’t someone call the Four Loko guys? This sounds like the perfect money-spender from the frat guys who decided to make 24 oz. alcoholic energy drinks.