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 vehicles, but Burning Man just seems to bring out the need for higher levels of weirdness...  So sheets of paper started getting covered w/ doodles, 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:
  1. Work w/o breaking down.
  2. Allow me to talk to people while I was piloting the thing, so:
    1. Seating for the passengers and drivers close together.
    2. Not too noisy.
    3. Not too much work for the driver, either in terms of effort or concentration.
    4. Powered by something other than me.
    5. 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.
  3. Not something I'd ever seen before at Burning Man or in photos of previous years.
  4. Both "arty" and safe enough to pass BM DMV inspection.
  5. Lit sufficiently for night driving.
  6. Tunes... gotta have tunes.
  7. Something I didn't need to trailer.
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...

Initial design

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 RoboShaw's
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 wide
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.

Posted 7/17/2005
Brian on RoboShaw

Brian (my son) is kicking back on RoboShaw (so is the cat).  The robot's torso/head
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.

what the driver would see

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.

Posted 7/10/2005
Early photo of myself and kids on what will become RoboShaw:

bart and kids on roboshaw during construction

Working on RoboShaw: