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Power Tool Drag Races 89

The SF Chronicle has a piece on power tool drag races. Best quote: "There are very few happy, bouncy, fuzzy robots."
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Power Tool Drag Races

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @09:52PM (#6003739)
    Happy, bouncy, fuzzy robots stay in the bedroom...
  • L4m3 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @09:54PM (#6003753)
    It's like BattleBots, without the Battle....


  • Fuzzy? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ( 637314 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @09:54PM (#6003754) Homepage Journal
    "There are very few happy, bouncy, fuzzy robots."

    Bah, who wants those kind... bring on the terminator!
    • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:59PM (#6004208) Homepage
      I've never heard anyone here discuss SURVIVAL RESEARCH LABS.
      I've seen fuzzy robots in their videos.Of course
      it was usually a robot clothed in a dead rotting animal carcass.
      SRL was probably the great grandfather precursor to battlebots(which I've always found to be waaaay wimpy compared to SRL)
      The difference being many of SRLs robots are industrial size,insanely dangerous and operate under much less stringent rules of conduct than battlebots.
      Mark Pauline the founder is a fantastic gearhead-artist-geek.Check out the SRL site at []
      • Fuzzy robots??? well i followed your link and had my retinas burned by humans without any fuzzyness. Infact they were nude. Power tool welding geeks in a nude calendar is not my idea of battle bots :D
      • > I've never heard anyone here discuss SURVIVAL RESEARCH LABS.

        Yeah, and what I wanna know is, why the hell not? *grumbling about when the hell is there gonna be an honest-to-Dawg old-school SRL show, goddamnit, we're overdue, man!*

        The guy's got all the gear he needs, he just needs a place to use it. There are a lot of geeks on Slashdot. Some of us are have access to large areas of otherwise-unused land. Some of us are gearheads. Surely the intersection of the two cannot be the null set!

  • I'm sure they must have covered this in a few episodes. I saw a show on TLC about racing riding lawn mowers at speeds up to 50 mph.
  • Drag (Score:4, Funny)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @09:56PM (#6003765) Journal
    I don't know about you, but I would get very worried if my power tools started running around wearing women's clothing. Or any clothing at all, for that matter. Spooky.
  • by ( 637314 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @09:57PM (#6003773) Homepage Journal
    The Robot Wars phenomenon, begun in San Francisco, gave rise to Comedy Central's "Battlebots" and a similar new show on Tech TV.

    I always found Battlebots to be more like remote control cars on steroids. What I want is something with a little more AI, like Honda's ASIMO (or whatever its called), give those guys a sword, shield, and we'll have Light Ages of Camelot - Live!
    • Pft Sword and shield... If they aren't wielding a light-saber i just don't want to know
    • The Robot Wars phenomenon, begun in San Francisco...

      The phenomenom, in the form of robots actually attacking each other, may have started there. But robotic competitions have a longer history. There is an annual competition for high school students called FIRST [] (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) that is well worth the time to get involved with. Adults get to play too. The teams need sponsors and mentors.
      • It seems that everybody gets sold on the stupidest things these days... just look at American Idol. Star Search has been around for how long? Sure FIRST has been around since '92 but a lot of people don't care -- they'd rather be sold on something as ridiculous as "BattleBots." I think a lot of people would fail to see the connection between FIRST and "That Segway Guy..." but hey, the segway got lots of coverage in the news so it's got to be good, right?

        Sad, really.
        • I think a lot of people would fail to see the connection between FIRST and "That Segway Guy..." but hey, the segway got lots of coverage in the news so it's got to be good, right?

          I've met Dean Kamen. I don't think I've ever seen anyone with so much energy. Honestly, I think that the Segway was a business mistake, but technically, it is quite an achievement. I try not to emphasize the connection because he has done so many other things that have never made the news. Once Segway comes up, people seem to
          • So have I. Really cool guy. Make him tell you the story about when his parents came home to find out he ripped a giant hole in the backyard of the house so he could build a machine shop in the basement.
        • I'm surprised. The first time I heard of it was 3-4 years ago, when apparently my former high school started participating in the competition a year or two after I graduated. (Talk about bad timing... I wish they'd had something like FIRST when I was there.)

          In the past 4-5 years, FIRST has gone from unheard of to every school in the area fielding a top-notch team. As sad is it may seem, you might have BattleBots and the like to thank for that.

          Note: I live in Central Jersey. Not exactly the boonies.
  • by Turing Machine ( 144300 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:00PM (#6003802)
    So if these are like drag races, would walking disk drives [] be the equivalent of a tractor pull/monster truck event?
  • by spammyy ( 303116 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:01PM (#6003808)
    derigiderbils? [] (or happy furry party gerbiloons?)
  • by ramzak2k ( 596734 ) * on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:01PM (#6003810)
    I remember there were a article a few weeks ago in slashdot that talks about the encouragement these shows receive when they are to do with fuzzy robots- thought to be cool.

    Efforts towards building truly intelligent systems dont get as much coverage or encouragement - thats truly sad.
    • Actually, you're right. Truly intelligent systems would not be as cool or as funny as lawnmover in a dress. Take Data for example, truly intelligent system, and did you ever see him happy or at least truly happy?

      That said, truly intelligent systems need truly intelligent audience to be appreciated as much as they deserve. Hence, SF article gets obviously more attention in proportionally larger crowd than AI systems would.

      But that's just a guess.
  • Uh oh. (Score:4, Funny)

    by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <> on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:02PM (#6003819) Journal
    I think I know who took the Segway.
  • by Elvisisdead ( 450946 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:09PM (#6003868) Homepage Journal
    This is where it all started. The International Belt Sander Drag Race Association. []
  • Cool.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:09PM (#6003872)
    I love this sort of stuff. Unlike drag racing, which is expensive and takes up lots of space, these gizmos are things that just about anyone can do... Add to that the 'art' aspect and it makes it truly fun. I wish there was an outlet for this in Southern California.
  • Not the real thing (Score:4, Informative)

    by srmalloy ( 263556 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:15PM (#6003919) Homepage
    You should go look at the places where they really race power tools:

    National Belt Sander Racing Association [] International Belt Sander Drag Race Association [] Tyrol Basin Belt Sander Races [http] North Liberty Belt Sander Races [http]

    And yes, it's what it sounds like. Ever used a belt sander and had the sander get away from you because you weren't holding it tightly enough? Well, get a bunch of people sitting around in a bar drunkenly arguing about whose belt sander can get away from them the fastest, and belt-sander racing is born.
  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <`moc.sllenroc' `ta' `3nhoj'> on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:16PM (#6003923) Homepage Journal
    here [] at the Do It Best web site. These belt sander races are great promotional events for small town hardware stores. Kind of like a pinewood derby for adults.
  • who else read this headline and thought it was some sort of race participated by transvestite models of power tools?
  • by kurosawdust ( 654754 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:33PM (#6004049)
    Competitor #1: Go Lawnmower!
    Competitor #2: Go Circular Saw!
    Me: Go banana!

  • "The Robot Wars phenomenon, begun in San Francisco, gave rise to Comedy Central's "Battlebots" and a similar new show on Tech TV."

    What, pray tell, is this "new show"? Certainly not Robot Wars, which has been around for years. I can't think of any other show to which they could be referring.

    Also, is it just me, or did Robot Wars get really lame after Craig Charles left?
    • Robot Wars was a Thing in SF long before it was Show. I had friends that would compeet every year at the Exploritorium.

      As far as I'm concerned, all televised incarnations are both NEW and inheranly LAME. (But I'm a snob.)
  • Mirror site (Score:3, Funny)

    by nolife ( 233813 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:36PM (#6004075) Homepage Journal
    If anyone wants a mirror site, I found some
    good ones [] with Google.

  • From the article:
    This year, he plans on building a 20-foot action monkey -- cymbals and all - - and mount it on an art car to bring to Burning Man. With any luck, it will make a splash.
    Hard to imagine where the monkey might not be noticed, but I suppose Burning Man would be there, possibly racing power tools.
  • Robot Wars (Score:4, Funny)

    by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @10:49PM (#6004157) Journal
    they say that this current inspired the Robot Wars, etc - which, incidentally, I have something to say.

    Why oh why does nobody builds bepedal (or quadrapedal) robots? you get *TWICE* the weight limit! For that kind of mass, I'd get a robot that has two non-functional legs that will sit and peg the other guy with a retractable harpoon.

  • by UnixRevolution ( 597440 ) on Tuesday May 20, 2003 @11:38PM (#6004418) Homepage Journal
    besides the lawnmower races mentioned by someone else (i've actually seen these on tv, they're pretty funny), people also race:

    Shopping carts (motorized)
    golf carts
    rubber band/spool racers

    people, especially americans, will race damn near anything.

  • ...that only men are ever interviewed for these things? Girls can be gearheads, too! But then again...

    imagining... "You smell that? Do you smell that? C19 H28 O2, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of testosterone in the morning!"

    Yep. The reporter gets into the area, takes a whiff of the atmosphere, and it's Iron John all the way, baby! [very deliberate wink]

    • Too bad, there were TONS of women competing at the event. It may have been close to even. The defending champ was a lady. I personally know at least four women who competed.
  • Robotics. (Score:2, Informative)

    by FotoPlasma ( 135069 )
    <shameless plug>

    FIRST's [] (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) annual robotics competition has been supplying high school-based teams from all over the United States, Canada, Brazil, and the UK, with motors from power drills, car window mechanisms, powered van doors, and motorized camper jacks for years, now.

    Check out the galleries [] for pictures of the kinds of robots we make.

    It's not BattleBots or Robot Wars. The goals are never to destroy an opponent. The p
  • YES! I was there! (Score:4, Informative)

    by rMortyH ( 40227 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2003 @01:46AM (#6004989)
    This rules. It was a great day, and not only sfgate, but SLASHDOT? I'm shocked!

    Although the whole place was packed with robot people these weren't really robots. It was awesome, and Jim Mason's fire extinguisher rocket broke 100mph at the end of the track. He builds the giant fire cannons for burningman. He's brilliant but he smells awful.

    Kimric Smythe (who's in SRL and runs an accordion shop and gallery in Oakland) made a propane jet powered vacuum cleaner. It made a HUGE flame but went nowhere. He got 'most pathetic engineering'. It looked incredibly cool but he burned the hell out of some photographer's leg and there was some skin falling off.. In addition to incinerating the track...

    Remember the name of that junkyard, kids! It's the most wonderful place around. All your favorite robot parts, and all the obsolete computers you can crush with a forklift! A few weeks back there was a whole PDP-11. You can get dual 133 pentiums, apple ][e's, there was an Osbourne once. I got a magnatherm, a big medical thing that they used to use to microwave your body parts for therapudic reasons before they found out that was... um... Bad... It's got nixies and a built-in O-scope! Lights up a bulb with no cord. You can put a bag of popcorn on one of the paddles and it will make microwave popcorn right there in the middle of the room. I'm pretty sure it's illegal.

    Anyway, if you're into geek stuff you need to crawl around that place for a while. It's greasy geek heaven. Stay away from the old army crane, it's kinda radioactive. Don't pet the hairless squirrels. They're not nice.


    (First my job, then my favorite junkyard and the technology art group I'm a member of (q-box) have been slashdotted. I feel shiny.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The term robot, as defined in most dictionaries implies at least SOME level of autonomy. These power tool drag race machines are hardly robots. Nor are the machines built by SRL. I've been to a number of SRL shows, and while pretty darn amazing, all they're machines are controlled by your run-of-the-mill hobby RC control system. Not to be nudge, but the term *robot* is tossed around too much. It's time to raise the bar on this sort of thing and get some AI in these beasts.
    • You're absolutely right. These are not robots, they're cool cars.

      I have to correct you on the SRL thing though. Most SRL machines are remote control, which technically makes them 'puppets.' (I don't think they'd like to hear that)

      However, SRL is a big group of people and they have had many different true robots.

      My favorite was a bunch of robots about the size of garbage cans that knew each other's locations and moved in a swarming pattern. They were covered with rotting meat, and they made the au
  • Event photos at Laughing Squid: l_drag_races/

    Kimric's flaming Kirby Vac: (1 can of propane = 45 secs of intermittent flameout)

    It was a good day, even though my weed whacker bike (plate 4) refused to start.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?