Geek.com has an article on the solar powered art car which debuted at Maker Faire. You might recognize the legs from previous Burning Mans…
It may look terrifying, but Scott Parenteau’s solar- and wind-powered monstrosity was born of love, rather than Frankenstein madness. Originally envisioned as a vehicle to drive around the Burning Man music festival, this is actually the work of a pair of industrial sheet metal professionals.
The crab, viewable in the video below, is hardly a speedster, but it can charge its surprisingly modest power supply with a single top-mounted solar panel and a wind turbine.
It’s not technically solar-powered, since the panel can only be used to slowly recharge batteries that were probably first filled thanks to a fossil fuel-powered generator, but the addition does help. Also, since the huge robot only carries a single photovoltaic panel at present, there is clearly room for expansion of its green power generation.
The creators showed the robot at Maker Faire 2013, and even in an environment of such inflated expectations, drew significant attention. 12 legs carry the pod forward The sheer scale of the thing is impressive enough, but it’s the small numbers that achieve the greatest impact. It runs roughly 800 watts, or about half that of the average hairdryer. Even more impressive is the fact it can be disassembled and compressed to a pile of metal just over 3 x 3 x 3 feet in size, or less than half the size of the average household refrigerator. The motors that drive its movement are household dishwater gear motors.
Theo Jensen’s StrandBeest design was the inspiration for the legs.
The actual genesis of the design was apparently the geodesic dome that houses the crab driver’s seat. The vehicular aspect comes thanks to the rightly famous StrandBeest designed by Theo Jensen. Upon seeing the simple, beautiful, and functional leg designs of Jensen’s artistic walker, Parenteau knew he could achieve much the same design in his native medium of sheet metal.
The elegance of the design on display here is only half the story, though. To me, the much more interesting part is the fact that the democratization of design, coupled with increasingly approachable means of green power, can empower hobbyists with no more than a keen mind and imagination to realize projects of truly impressive scope.
I mean, just look at this thing. It came from a pair of welders with nothing but passion and some fundamental skills. It uses no particularly revolutionary technologies, but rather stands (and walks) as a reminder that when we share information, we are also sharing inspiration.