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Here's A Circus Act You've Probably Never Seen: Former NASA Engineer's 70 Foot BugJuggler Can Juggle Cars

Sometimes, robotics is about advancing the frontiers of human knowledge. Sometimes, it's about moving our technology forward into the future. And sometimes...it's just about doing something crazy. I think the robot called BugJuggler probably fits into the latter category.

Basically, BugJuggler is a giant humanoid robot that juggles cars. Yes, that is exactly as awesome as it sounds.  Probably even more so, actually.

Designed by former Nasa engineer Dan Granett, BugJuggler is a seventy foot tall remote-controlled giant that will be capable of hurling heavy objects at car rallies - namely, cars. Granett envisions his invention using hydraulic cylinders to launch the vehicles into the air, in what may well be the most unique (and terrifying) juggling act ever witnessed.

"BugJuggler represents a new frontier in robotic entertainment," Granett explained. "Moving beyond the car-crushing robots of the past century, BugJuggler will use 21st-century technology to perform breathtaking feats, including juggling up to three cars simultaneously. The robot will be more mecha than droid, as an operator located in BugJuggler's head will be able to control its motions using a haptic feedback interface connected to a number of high-speed servo valves. The arms of the bot will be powered by hydraulic accumulators (batteries which store hydraulic fluid) enabling it to move smoothly as it throws cars or other large objects. 

Now, for those of you worried about the possibility of a rogue. rampaging automaton kicking down skyscrapers, I've got some good news: BugJuggler is operated by a human. Of course, that brings up a whole host of new problems, since the titan is controlled through haptic feedback: if the operator fumbles, so does BugJuggler. Yikes. It's one thing to drop a few balls or eggs, but cars? 

For this reason, Granett's invention will operate within a 'safety radius,' so that in the event that a car is dropped, it doesn't end up crushing any unsuspecting onlookers. 

The first stage of the project will involve the construction of a working eight foot tall arm, which will serve as a sort of proof-of-concept for the device. This arm - assuming it works - will be able to toss and catch a mass of around two hundred and fifty pounds. Of course, that's somewhat lighter fare than what the finished version will be carrying; a Volkswagen Beetle usually weighs around 2700 pounds. 

Granett was originally a technician at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he built mechanisms to be used in experiments on Space Shuttle flights during the 1980s. A hydraulics expert, Granett prior to his current project built a disel/hydraulic vehicle capable of moving six ton sections of pipe for a tunnel in California. He was also responsible for the equipment used in the in-flight scenes of James Bond: The Living Daylights. 

Currently, Granett and his team are seeking an investment for BugJuggler, which carries an estimated cost of $2.3 million. Sure, it's a little pricy, but hey - juggling robots! Seriously, I don't know how anyone couldn't find that cool. I for one can't wait to start seeing this thing making the rounds at demolition derbies.

The only question is whether or not it'll be able to walk, too. I'm kinda hoping that one's a 'no.' That might just transform this machine from a cool novelty into something...a little less entertaining. 

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