Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

1 minute read

A 7-Story Robot That Juggles Cars. Hey, It's A Living.

It's not the villain of a bad sci-fi movie. If the inventors of the BugJuggler have their way, this gigantic robot that hurls cars to the sky is "the next phase in robotic entertainment."

A 7-Story Robot That Juggles Cars. Hey, It's A Living.

If you actually build a gigantic 70-foot robot, there’d be lots of ambitious things you could do with it, such as battling evil villains or maybe becoming one yourself.

The designers of the BugJuggler have set friendlier, stranger sights for their vision. They hope their seven-story robot, complete with a haptic control interface that lets a person operate it from inside, will be an entertainer. Specifically, it would be great at hurling cars into the sky and catching them in mid-air for your viewing enjoyment (hopefully Volkswagen Beetles, as the robots’ name goes).

The diesel-powered robot is the creation of Dan Granett, a Berkeley-based inventor and former NASA engineer who told Gizmodo about his and his team's quest, which has involved, among other things, learning to juggle from a nearby clown troupe and working to raise the $2.3 million needed to fund construction.

Why on earth would someone do this? According to the site, the BugJuggler "represents a new frontier in robotic entertainment," similar to the way monster trucks are a popular today (are they really?). The inventors appeal to Las Vegas casinos and companies like Red Bull to consider drawing "a whole new crowd of fearless warrior techies to your events" and to "visualize the advertisement and entertainment potential."

The team behind the project is really serious about this and is now constructing a human-scale single-armed prototype that would be capable of tossing and catching a 250-pound object and could be controlled by an operator using a force feedback control sleeve. Here's a video of them working on the prototype. Welcome to the latest in robo-bro entertainment.