Survival Research Labs: Machines with whimsical madness

It's hard to beat Survival Research Labs when it comes to leveraging leading-edge technology and robotics into true spectacles of confusion and destruction. For example, did you know they were the first ones to have an animal-controlled robot in a live performance? It's true. Back in the 1980s, they had a guinea pig in a wired-up harness on a six-legged robot and the guinea pig's movements controlled the robot's movements.

You can spend a lot of time wandering their website, checking out machines like the Mumbly Peg Stabber and the Flame Whistle. (You can also run into a few dead links, but that's one of the hallmarks of older websites.) This one is still updated and you can get DVDs of previous SRL shows with semi-pompous names like "Virtues of Negative Fascination" and "A Calculated Forecast of Ultimate Doom: Sickening Episodes of Widespread Devastation Accompanied by Sensations of Pleasurable Excitement."

But these folks don't take themselves too seriously, and the founder, Mark Pauline, is a big fan of Machine Design. In fact, he was kind enough to invite me to his workshop and talk me through several of his machines a few years ago. Here's the article that came out of that interview: Crashing and Burning with Class.

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A questioning, sometimes humorous look at technologies, engineering, and the world.

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Stephen Mraz

Steve serves as Senior Editor of Machine Design.  He has 23 years of service and has a B.S. Biomedical Engineering from CWRU. Steve was a E-2C Hawkeye Naval Flight Officer in the U.S. Navy. He...
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