Ex-NASA engineer seeks to create 70ft tall VW Beetle car juggling robot

Here’s an ambitious robot technology project that we at Tech Assimilate would dearly love to see realised. We aren’t sure what practical benefit might come from the project’s completion but to be able to witness a 70ft tall robot juggling cars would be an earth shaking spectacular treat to behold. A $2.3 million funding proposal to achieve this robotic feat is doing the rounds of corporate sponsors and angel investors.

The Bugjuggler, as imagined in a stadium

The Bugjuggler, as imagined in a stadium

The ‘Bugjuggler’, so named as the objects the machine intends to juggle are old VW Beetle cars, is the brainchild of former NASA Jet Propulsion technician Dan Granett. He suggests that the funding required is just a “drop in the bucket” for potential backers such as Red Bull, Elon Musk or Richard Branson.

This week Granett launched a crowdfunding site to get the project kick-started. He suggests that the robot would be popular at events such as monster-truck rallies and is currently preparing an 8ft tall prototype as a proof of concept. The technology involved would be diesel powered with backup batteries. Hydralics would be used to provide the “nearly instantaneous power,” required by the Bugjuggler’s arms. The robot would be built from with reinforced structural steel joints.

Looking at the control technology the robot would be controlled by “a haptic sensory feedback interface augmented by advanced machine vision technology,” says Granett. An operator situated in the robot head would receive stereo video from robot mounted cameras and move his body to implement the robot’s juggling action. Actually it is intended that the robot could also be capable of autonomous juggling using trajectory tracking and computer assisted positioning.


While the project might sound rather audacious and implausible it looks like it could get enough momentum to be something – if only a wonderful spectacular one-time catastrophe… Also research done to make the project reality could be useful in the field of “agile yet powerful extensions of the human body for work and play,” even if the 70ft tall version don’t cut the mustard.

This story caught the Tech Assimilator’s eye on The Verge.

Mark Tyson

Mark has worked for a number of years as a newshound on other technology news websites. He decided to write for Tech Assimilate thanks to this web site's open embracing vision of the fascinating world of personal technology. Mark has also worked in the printing and advertising industries for tens of years previously.

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