first_imgLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. It’s the 21st century, and we were promised robots. Science fiction made us think that we’d have automated servants at home and at work, taking care of menial tasks so we can devote our valuable human minds and bodies to… reading comics and playing video games. But commercial robotics, while fun, just aren’t up to snuff yet.The core tenet of the true geek is that if something doesn’t exist, we make it ourself. So join us on a journey around the world to meet eleven inventors who weren’t satisfied with the state of contemporary robotics and hacked together personal mechanical assistants in a staggering array of shapes. From scrap metal servants on a Chinese farm to a face-recognizing laser drone in a pizza box, these are our picks for the coolest and craziest homemade robots out there.LokiMany of the homemade robots we’re going to see here started out as hobby projects before getting out of control – sort of like Ultron. David Shinsel’s “Loki” probably isn’t going to evolve into a malevolent superintelligence aiming to eradicate all organic life, though. Built from aluminum, the rolling robot is four feet tall and about 40 pounds. It uses a pair of three-fingered hands on the end of fully movable arms and uses facial and color recognition software to identify CDs, count money, respond to voice commands and navigate his house using an odometer, compass and maps.Bum-BotThe problem of homelessness is one that is puzzling many cities right now, as housing becomes more expensive and the opioid epidemic drains productive people from the workforce. The situation is complex, but Atlanta barbecue restaurant owner Rufus Terrill has come up with… well, we wouldn’t say a solution exactly, but it sure is a robot. The three-wheeled unit is controlled remotely and built from a meat smoker. It has a camera system, loudspeaker and lights that Rufus – who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2009 – uses to roust out undesirables after dark in the parking lot around his business. If they resist, the front-mounted water cannon gives them a cold squirt.BlessU-2Robots and religion typically aren’t subjects that go together well, but a group of Protestants in Germany are trying to erase that divide with the help of a clergybot. BlessU-2 was built in honor of the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation to expand the notions of what getting a blessing means. It can speak in multiple languages in male and female voices, and recites from a selection of pre-programmed prayers. We don’t see this somewhat terrifying looking machine replacing human priests anytime soon, but we said that about travel agents and look what happened to them.Robot RickshawChinese farmer Wu Yulu is probably the world’s most prolific homemade robot inventor. From his property outside of Beijing, he’s spent decades creating charming single-purpose robots out of junk. His first creation was a robot rickshaw driver to chauffeur him around the farm in style, and since then he’s built several dozen more. A different robot pours his tea, lights his cigarettes and more. His hobby hasn’t been without cost – an exploding battery scarred his face pretty badly and another failed experiment burned his house down. He still soldiers on, though, building new friends and helpers.MX-PhoenixWhile most of the robots in this article have appearances that give away their amateur construction, the MX-Phoenix looks slick and futuristic, like something that could have come out of a black ops lab and not a garage in Norway. Inventor Kåre Halvorsen has a day job as an engineer, but on weekends he lets his lust for robots take him over. The MX-Phoenix was built to display a proof of concept for a hexapodal walker that could take on a variety of rough terrain. Constructed mainly from 3D printed ABS plastic, it’s a creepy crawler that could develop into something very cool.ScrapbotLet’s head back to China for one of the beefiest homemade robots on this list. Inventor Tao Xiangli built his massive robot companion, who clocks in at over six feet tall and nearly 500 pounds. Brightly illuminated, the vaguely humanoid creation can perform simple motions like rotating its neck and raising its arms at the flip of one of the dozens of switches that stud its body. It can also respond to commands through IR beaming. Tao’s creation isn’t mobile on its own, though, so there’s no risk of it going on a rampage.Laser Eye BlasterAsimov’s first law states that no robot should ever harm a human, but laws are meant to be broken. 19 year old Arizona college student Michael Reeves made headlines in April by constructing a robot that scans the room for his face and, if it sees him, blasts him in the eye with a low-wattage laser. Made from a pair of servos and a webcam hooked up to a database, the contraption is housed in a pizza box for maximum funkiness. As for why exactly he felt the need to create something that hates him, Reeves didn’t seem to have a particularly good answer.The SafecrackerLet’s continue with the theme of robots who use their mechanical powers for evil. When engineer Nathan Seidle came into possession of a second-hand safe with no combination, he set to building a robot that could crack it. The finished project is an automated device made from 3D printed and off-the-shelf parts that can crack a safe in an average of 36 minutes with no fuss or muss. The machine illustrates the scary reality that brute force isn’t the only game in town. If a tireless machine can algorithmically test every combination, safe manufacturers are going to have to come up with some new tricks.The Bear ElectrocutionerGoing face-to-face with a bear isn’t the smartest idea, so Turkish inventor Mustafa Karasungur decided to deputize a robot to do it for him. His bizarre creation is a white-faced homunculus that rolls along on a wooden platform, jerking its arms wildly. Here’s the kicker, though: if it does encounter a bear, built-in batteries release 25,000 volts into the beast. Unfortunately, it’ll do the same to a human because Karasungur’s not really up on the latest AI developments.AikoWhile some robot makers pursue their craft to make human lives easier, others have a different motivation: companionship. Le Trung is a Japanese software engineer who lives with his parents and hasn’t had much luck on the dating scene, so he sank some $20,000 into the creation of artificial femme Aiko. The humanoid robot has a network of sensors throughout her body, speaks both English and Japanese and… can’t walk. Trung is working on that, though, and hopes to have his perfect woman ambulatory soon.Captured! By RobotsIt can be hard to put a band together – egos clash, skill levels vary, and the pay’s not great. So in 1996, Jay Vance decided to throw all that out the window and just construct his own backing musicians. The result was Captured! By Robots, the gig that he’s been doing for the last two decades. Clad in a gimp mask, Vance shreds on guitar as automated drummers, bass players and other noisemakers hammer away behind him. His creations are both hilarious and totally terrifying.last_img