I know, I know, it's a bit premature of me, but early birds capture the worm and all that. So, Christmas. Please can I have a BugJuggler in my stocking this year? It's not some sort of advanced butterfly farm kit for my toddler, nor is it a sadistic flycatcher that electrocutes bugs, but just enough to give them a bit of a fright, rather than zapping them outright. It is a 70-foot high robot with a unique talent — that of juggling cars — it's even got a cute little holster to store the third car in before it starts tossing the vee-hickles up into the air. Ever since I can remember I've been crazy about robots, and my last robot — a tiny little Hex Bug — decided it wanted to explore my apartment all on its own — and for all I know, it's still exploring, somewhere underneath the kitchen units.
But I digress. Let me explain this crazy project a bit more, Santa. The BugJuggler hasn't been built yet, but it's this crazy concept by a guy named Dan Granett, who used to work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory — that's the part of NASA that creates crazy landing craft, robots and rovers to explore other planets. He's created this amazing, 70-foot-high beast with hydraulic limbs that he hopes will be able to juggle cars — and he needs funding. Granett and his two colleagues — one is a web designer, the other an animator — are hoping that they can raise the $2.3 million needed to get BugJuggler on the road (or to your local arena where it will make those monster trucks look so meh).
And it's the tech, Santa, that makes BugJuggler so surprising and exciting. The robot, which is made up of hydraulics, a servo, a steel frame and either a diesel or electric engine, can be controlled two ways — either by climbing up a ladder to the control room — the robot's head, obviously — or by a person on the ground. (Not too close, however, just in case there's a "Whoops! Butterfingers" moment.) The controller would be wearing a pair of haptic gloves that'll allow the robot to mimic his/her actions and there would be a safety perimeter to stop anyone getting bopped on the head by a falling VW Beetle (where the BugJuggler gets its name from).
Am I asking too much? I promise I'll be a good girl for the rest of the year.