The sheer number of pieces is just mind boggling. And for a race car of any stripe everything has to be right for there to be a chance of being near the top at the end. In my mind, this is the hardest part of racing. A driver can only make so many mistakes, but for a mechanic the possibilities are almost endless. Think about that the next time you see a race car finish a race. No matter what place the car finishes it is a triumph. It is a triumph of a small group of people against infinite possibilities to screw the pooch.
Four years into development, Micromagic Systems is officially unveiling the Mantis — a giant all-terrain “hexapod” robot.
It’s powered by a 2.2-liter turbo diesel engine, it can be piloted remotely, even via wi-fi. It’s over nine feet tall and can traverse any type of ground, including rocks, mud, and babies.
I’ve got the tools, the interest, and the spare time. Even money my garage goes up in a massive explosion that shatters windows for miles around. My neighbors will be on the news saying how nice I was. “Always tinkering on something. Never caused any trouble. But who in their right mind builds a rocket in their garage?”
Helicopters are spendy. Like, burns 30 gallons per hour of Jet A, a $4.25 a gallon spendy. Don’t forget the pilot, who doesn’t come cheap. Not to mention aircraft maintenance costs. When your aircraft flies based solely on a deal made with Beelzebub, you don’t skimp when it comes time to pay the bill. The Prince of Darkness isn’t a fan past due notes.
Motorsports has been undergoing a revolution in coverage with the development of remote control camera platforms. As broadcasters balked at the cost of renting traditional rotorcraft camera platforms, the RC operators stepped in and filled the gap. Providing not only a closer look at the action, but doing so cheaper, and safer than traditional options. We’re not quite to the point where an RC camera platform can track a car as well as a helicopter, but it is on the horizon.
But while all of that is cool, what really impresses me about this technology is that it is essentially grass roots. This has all been driven by enthusiasts building in there garages and basements on weekends. They have been solving really complex problems like multirotor harmonic balancing because one night while sitting in front of a TV they thought, “somebody should make a…” A few minutes, or hours, or days later they realized that they were somebody, and it was time to get to work. Hours later, after teaching themselves fabrication, materials sciences, and mechanical engineering, multicopters were born, and a new facet to the broadcast industry was discovered.
In the words of the poet and philosopher Homer J. Simpson “It’s funny ’cause it’s true.”
How much tech actually improves your life versus the devices that simply raise your blood pressure? About three years ago I culled as many of the Hulk-rage inducing items out of my life as I could. I don’t miss them at all, but my friends have since been denied the pleasure of seeing a grown man have a temper tantrum. So I guess there is some opportunity cost.
image by Dan Fulano
A while ago Eric posted some video of the Isle of Mann TT. Irish Road Racing is in the same spirit of racing on closed public roads -and all the risk that entails- except instead of racing the clock, riders are racing an entire field of people whose idea of risk management is just as skewed.
It’s a throwback to an era when almost all racing took place on public roads. Sane people have since moved onto purpose built tracks, but there are still a few willing take the same risk as the old timers. Just take a second to think about what kind of focus and determination it takes to drive anything like that knowing that the wrong move at the wrong time, and you’re a grease stain.