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Unknown Fields Division Does Burning Man: Walking Pod, Mechanical Beest Vehicle





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Meet Scott, a commercial welder who by day runs his own sheet metal fabricating business in Sacramento with 3 other colleagues, and by night, he constructs metal geodesic dome mutant vehicles and pod cabins.

Inspired by Theo Janssen’s StrandBeest, Scott created his own Bucky ball like mutant vehicle for this year’s Burning Man event to cruise around the playa at Black Rock City. With initial approval for his design from the Burning Man Department of Mutant Vehicles (DMV), he set out to construct his Walking Pod, a mutated version of the Strandbeest, with a focus on creating a moving platform to cross the hostile terrain while providing a comfortable living space inside.

burningman_walkingpod_ladder2.jpgA ladder to climb into the Pod

With time and money constraints he spent his free weekends and nights searching for surplus materials to construct his geodesic mutant vehicle. Fabricating parts in his workshop using only his welding skills and a CNC plasma table, Scott planned and built the vehicle in 3 months.

Constructed from scrap metal parts, sheet metal, tubing, industrial dishwasher motors, deep cell batteries, speed controllers and polycarbonate scraps the vehicle weighs approximately the same as a VW beetle at 1800 pounds.

burningman_walkingpod_dishwashermotor.jpgA closer look at the Walking Pod’s Dishwasher Motor

Requiring only 800 watts of power to run with a top speed 0.2 miles per hour, the mutant vehicle is powered by two 12 volt batteries hooked up to an inverter, two speed controllers and two electric motors. When the batteries charge to 90% the additional solar and wind generator built on top of the vehicle complement the backup generator reducing the time needed to run it during the week.

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Unlike the Strandbeest, Scott split the Walking Pod mutant vehicles’ legs into sections of three, mainly to fit the size of his pod cabin to enable him to transport it from Sacramento, California.

With the help of Scotts’ own cross-like spring mechanism, each leg moves forward and reverses independently, enabling the vehicle to travel in both directions when driving it across the desert. To ensure the legs run smoothly and cope with the abusive playa dust, each pivot point is made from self-lubricating graphite impregnated bushings.

burningman_chainspring_walkingpod.jpg
burningman_walkingpod_legs.jpgA closer look at the Chain Spring (above) and Legs (below)

Scott hopes in the future it may serve some more practical purposes—perhaps as a way to cross toxic waste sites, snake-infested swamps or hot volcanic fields. For now, it serves as a great spectacle for all those out on the Burning Man playa.

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