Former NASA engineer using Kickstarter campaign to fund the BugJuggler
Finally, a perfect gift for the tech-whiz who has everything: a donation in his or her name to help build a gigantic, car-juggling robot. Via a new Kickstarter campaign, anyone can support the cause and become an official Jugglenaut (aka donor).
Developed by former NASA Jet Propulsion Labs engineer Dan Granett, the proposed BugJuggler would live up to its name and juggle Volkswagen Beetles (and cars of similar size) to the delight of onlookers. Through Friday, September 12, the campaign is seeking $50,000 to build a human-scale prototype robot, and still needs major financial support.
If funded, the prototype will be a working scale model of the giant version, and will use the same sophisticated hydraulic components and feedback controls as planned for the full-sized juggler. As the team tests the agility, strength, and speed of the technology by handling up to 250lb objects with the prototype, it will also test the interface between the human operator and the BugJuggler, consisting of a sensor sleeve and glove, and even giving the operator the “phantom” feeling of carrying weight.
If completed, the seven-story BugJuggler will be controlled by a trained human juggler occupying a sort of cranial cage at its top. Because juggling even tennis balls requires a great deal of speed and coordination, the big bot will need (and is planned) to be one of the fastest-moving and strongest robots of its kind, relying jointly on diesel power, structural steel components and enormous (if off-the-shelf) hydraulic cylinders.
Despite the fact the team has collectively contributed to mechanical experiments on several Space Shuttle flights, the development of three NASA/JPL patents, and equipment for Bond’s in-flight fight in The Living Daylights, the engineers seem to have fun on the brain as much as they do revolutionizing robots; as their Kickstarter page enthuses, “by helping [them] build this prototype you will be making it possible for us to take the first, crucial step on the path to building the coolest robot you’ve ever seen!”