Finding Jim Henson in Junk: Animatronic Bots Will Make You Smile

Robotics Technology
Finding Jim Henson in Junk: Animatronic Bots Will Make You Smile

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Steve Hanania may have been an electrical engineer a long time ago, but now he’s a mad scientist. Like Frankenstein, he pulls parts from dead pieces of technology, reincarnating them into new life forms.

[youtube https://youtu.be/w12pC3kiZWc]

These animatronics are expressive and alive, reacting to viewers as they walk up and trigger proximity sensors. The junk-filled innards are not hidden away behind the scenes, but rather displayed proudly as a way of inspiring young Makers to pull from resources all around them.

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Hanania has spent many years cobbling together these puppets that are packed with character as well as parts. He says that each piece of the puppet  the eyes, mouth, and various motions  are all handled by separate microcontrollers, allowing for the toy as a whole to keep functioning in the event that one piece failed.
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The whimsical and silly nature of these scrapbots brings a crowd. People stare and poke, but most importantly they ask about the parts. For many, this is a great lesson on reusing parts.

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. You can find me on twitter at @calebkraft

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