I wanted an Art Car.... but not just any Art Car. Cans of Day-Glo
paint on a knackered-out golf car just weren't going to cut it.... I
wanted something I hadn't seen yet. I've built some weird
but Burning Man just seems to bring out the need for higher levels of
weirdness... So sheets of paper started getting covered w/
and some discussions ensued w/ friends. Well, as is usual when I can't
decide what shape to make something, I listed what I wanted it to do:
Well, my avoidance of trailering kind of forced the technology towards
the bicycle end in terms of scale. After seeing the robot drawn
rickshaw in one of the Star Wars movies, and seeing the walking robot
pulling a rickshaw in the galleries, I thought a rickshaw might be just
the ticket... and the robot could encompass all the mechanical bits, so
the rest of the vehicle would appear "lo-tech". The "robot" would
actually be completely and directly controlled by the pilot; there was
no way I was having anything to do with any thing autonomous in the
often "happy" nighttime crowds...
- Work w/o breaking down.
- Allow me to talk to people while I was piloting the thing, so:
- Seating for the passengers and drivers close together.
- Not too noisy.
- Not too much work for the driver, either in terms of effort or
- Powered by something other than me.
- Something with shade.... my steam launch Otter has a canopy
that is really essential in the SF Bay Delta sun - so I wanted a canopy
for me and my passengers.
- Not something I'd ever seen before at Burning Man or in photos of
- Both "arty" and safe enough to pass BM DMV inspection.
- Lit sufficiently for night driving.
- Tunes... gotta have tunes.
- Something I didn't need to trailer.
Once I'd decided on a rickshaw-like design, I started looking for parts
to coerce my design thinking a bit... Nothern Tool had some nice
300lbs. rated bicycle-style wheels on sale for $25 apiece; that seemed
promising. The kids(Brian or Alison) hadn't driven their go-kart
that we'd built together for a couple of years, so after a bit of
discussion I got clearance to reuse the go-kart drive-line: a 6 hp
industrial Briggs & Stratton, torque converter (e.g. automatic
transmission) , disk brake, etc. I'd driven the go-kart enough to
know that I wanted to stay away from the engine in terms of noise, and
we probably wanted to gear it up since the go-kart had been designed to
climb very steep hills, something in rather short supply at Burning Man.
Well, 300 lbs per rear wheel meant that we could carry 3 people, plus
or minus... that sort of fixed the width of the seat at about 5 feet,
and 12 feet seemed far enough away for the engine...
This page will shortly contain the drawing and photos needed for
Mutant Vehicle License application for 2005 Burning Man.
RoboShaw's basic concept is a rickshaw, drawn by a wheeled robot w/
humanoid torso & head - eg a mechanical centaur. We've got an
variety of hats, helmets and other head gear for both the robot and
the driver, so we can vary the appearance daily at Burning Man.
Brian (my son) is kicking back on RoboShaw (so is the cat). The
isn't on yet. The sunshade is clamped in place on this picture;
it was welded
later on that evening. Barbie has the good camera in England,
sigh; I'll try
again tomorrow to get better pictures.
Drivers eye view; the temporary steering tiller will be redone
with 1" pipe and a movable, longer arm. Since RoboShaw
has no front differential, steering torque on the street
is insane... but on dirt, sand it's fine, so I'm guessing the
playa will work just fine.
Early photo of myself and kids on what will become RoboShaw:
Working on RoboShaw: