Sauerkraut Powered Robot

My favorite interaction was a youngster approaching Jesse Hemminger’s Sauerkraut Powered Robot display at the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire, getting a whiff, throwing his hand up to cover his mouth and then ran off instantly.




28 thoughts on “Sauerkraut Powered Robot

      1. Very cool.  Thanks for sharing a video of them in action.  I assume you’ve got ‘solar-bot’ type circuits collecting power.  Nice synthesis.

        I love the orange one when it fits!

        1. Oh yeah, I was going to post info about that too. I’m using beam robotics circuits from: 

          The first robot you see in the video is actually a kit from

          I just removed the solar panel and connected the Sauerkraut Batteries. I also attached pencil lead so it would draw me a picture.

          The next one you see in the video is my own creation, I just bought the individual components from, added a limit switch and extra motor to the Miller Engine circuit design from, and freeform soldered it together into what I think looks like a little crustacean. The limit switch makes it a wall following bot by simply switching between the two motors.

          The orange robot is a Hexbug Ant that I circuit bent by removing the batteries and adding a Miller Engine so it could be powered by the Sauerkraut. This one has a much much larger capacitor (.35 F instead of .0047 F) so it takes much longer to charge up, but when it goes it also goes for much longer.

  1. Strictly-speaking, it’s not really sauerkraut-powered. the sauerkraut is just the ion path and the energy comes from the oxidation of the metal plates. Great work, but you need to pick a more kid-friendly electrolyte next time! =)

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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