Sci-Fi Machines


  • We created a hoverbord that could survive in a Sci-Fi world where 80% of the world is lava.

  • In a world where humans are no longer the apex predator and the common household spider has become a man-eating, giant, 10 ft. spider, humans have developed robots to help deal with this new threat. The spiders are noticeably smarter than before, and their extra strength and natural abilities make them extremely difficult to be killed off. In response, we created this scouting robot, codenamed the Spider-Bot, to clear paths and displace spiders.

    Since spiders are attracted to bright, colorful, moving objects, this 6-legged automaton is equipped with bright LED lights strung along its head to attract the colossal spiders away from the route you are taking, clearing a safe path to travel through. This Spider Bot is remote controlled, and has a projectable camera mounted on its head so you can see where you're going and quickly adapt to new situations.

    This Spider Bot has a simplistic design in which only two motors are used to make the spider do everything it has to. This is all programmed by the Arduino Uno, which is then controllable using a remote. The design uses linking interactions, making the spinning motor able to make the legs turn left and right, as well as up and down. This complex design allows for less motors and therefore less clutter, while still letting the spider keep all of its necessary functions. The design of the body, while giving it style points, gives it a lighter weight so that it can do thing easier. 

  • In a world where humans are isolated and live hundreds of miles apart in oases in a worldwide desert, it became necessary to find alternate means for communication and trade. There are many challenges in traveling through the desert, such as the notorious sand pirates who make a profitable living from robbing caravans of goods. To circumvent this, the armored train "desert snake" or "desert viper" was invented. It's outer carapace makes it very hard to breach from the ground, and its winding pattern makes it even harder to hit from the air. In addition, cars cannot be separated from each other, making sure that they cannot be divided and taken down individually.

    One of the first challenges we faced was the weight of the train, particularly in the driving cars in the front and the back. This forced us to use larger and heavier motors to pull the cars, and thicker axles to ensure that the weight of the driving cars could remain in suspension. A bent axle could be fatal in an encounter with pirates, slowing the train and allowing it to be captured or destroyed.

    Our very first iteration did not have wheels, much less move. This iteration was designed to test different styles of connection between the cars. Initially, we thought motors with reels connected to the exterior of each car could use rubber bands to pull and push the cars in front and behind into the winding motion necessary for our design, but this design was impractical, as it would require motors attached to each car.

    Our second iteration was an attempt to create a drivable vehicle, but that was around the time we were forced to switch to heavier motors, and we found that the motors holes we had cut out were not large enough, and were forced to recraft our design.

    In our third iteration, we added circular wooden wheels that could touch the ground, and bigger cars that were connected to each other by rectangular wooden sections. Now we had motors, however we found that the wheels we had created gained no friction on the wooden surface of our table, much less a sandy desert. Another problem was that our cars were too large, and wasteful of materials. We planned to have a larger number of smaller cars rather than a smaller number of larger cars. That way, we could produce a smoother winding motion in the overall train.

    In our fourth iteration, we fit rubber bands around our wheels, and made the cars smaller. We also put ball-bearings on each car to allow them to move horizontally from side to side as well as forward and backward. Since cars would not be equipped individually with motors and wheels, they did not need to be self driving, part of the advantage of having a train instead of a caravan. We were also forced to elevate the car connectors, as their rotation was being blocked by the knuts connecting the ball bearings to the cars.

    On our fourth iteration we added a driving car in the rear of the train, as well as in the front, to produce the curving motion we needed. The only problem was, the front car was very open and vulnerable. As demonstrated in our fourth picture above, fire would be an issue to a train not constructed of metal. To meet this end, we printed our front car in a different material in 3d, making protected compartments for the electronics required to drive the train.

    After we printed our front and back cars, we distributed the electronic components along the train. The micro computer programmed to imitate the motion of a winding snake, along with the receiver allowing it to be remotely controlled was placed in the front driving car. The 9v power supply was placed in the back. The two essential components were connected by wires running the length of the train. Our final iteration was our first iteration that was drivable, and it worked just as expected.

  • next

  • Have you ever had a cool idea for a machine (a cylindrical rolling robot? a dragon that spits out popcorn? a sensor-driven robotic jellyfish?) that you wanted to make, but didn’t know how? They might say, “there’s an app for that,” but if it’s beyond the screen of your pre-packaged device, then there isn’t. So, what are you gonna do? Are you going to wait for some company to make it, are you going to give up, or do you want to do it yourself? The fact is, the tools do exist to get your idea into reality — and the secret is, they’re so easy to use, that any of you can do it. In ten days, we’ll show you how!

    In this studio, students will learn the basics of electronics, microcontrollers and computer programming (using the Arduino environment).  They will also learn how to integrate the computer with external sensors (from simple switches and buttons to heat/temperature, light, gas, touch) and actuators (such as motors, lights, speakers, solenoids, valves, fans) to allow them to turn their ideas into sci-fi machines without having to depend on anyone else to do it for them! We will empower students with the physics (electricity and magnetism — booyah!), engineering, 3D modeling, robotics, and programming skills you need to bring your science fiction vision to reality!

    Focus Skills/Subjects/Technologies:


      Physics (Electricity, Magnetism)




       Robotics (Arduino, Sensors, Actuators)

       Digital Fabrication (Laser-cutting, 3d Printing)

       3d Modeling



  • Our final product is a car with wings that flap, wheels that can be controlled, and LED lights that change color based on the control of the wheels.

  • Project Team: Benedict Fernando, Grady Haffey, Jack Mullaney, Brewer Daley, Dalton Vassallo

    We came up with the idea to make two remote-controlled Mario Karts designed on 2 separate themes that would battle each other and try to pop the balloons located on each of the other's body frame. One of the Karts was designed to look like a Porcupine combined with the strength of a shuriken, a traditional Japanese concealed weapon that is generally used for throwing. The second Kart was designed to look like a Bumble Bee, agile and buoyant.

  • Merkaba is a 3d printed exotic looking bracelet that worked as a musical prosthetic.  The bracelet itself has sharp points sticking out on one side and extends down the bracelet, unevenly. The bracelet has an arduino attached to the bracelet for the final presentation, and multiple wires connecting the bracelet to the patch on a users arm.  The wires are soldered and placed in the correct holes of the arduino to send the data to the sensors. Each bracelet has two touch sensors, which play two different sounds according to the instrument each player is assigned.

    In our team Isabella had the vocal bracelet - one of the sensors on the vocal bracelet manipulates the volume of her recorded singing , while the second sensor manipulates one of her coaches beat-boxing recordings. Jasper had the melody bracelet- both sensors on the bracelet are piano based sounds and has the manipulations of the volume. Lizzie had the beat bracelet- both sensors on the bracelet plays two different beats and has the manipulations of the volume aswell the other two bracelets.

  • Our project, Cylindero, is a radio controlled vehicle with lights, and is capable of driving at fairly high speeds. Now completed, the interior electronic components of Cylindero are no longer visible. Cylindero is constructed of 3d printed plastic components, most of which were designed in the early stages by us. Our concept has changed since the beginning, for practicality and structural reasons, but it is very close to what we originally planned, and for that we are proud. We did, however, face design challengs which we were forced to overcome. For one, a base problem of Cylindero is its main design. For it to work, the motors must be the centerpiece, not the arduino or battery. The whole construct would have to be suspended from the motors, meaning both the cylinder wheels and the outer cylinder would need to be able to take a lot of strain from continous running. To solve this problem we chose sturdy motors, but in addition we replaced the motor axle with a sturdier mount (or hub) to connect to the cylinder wheels. Another problem we faced was spinning of the interior. If not properly secured, the interior of Cylindero would spin instead of the exterior (the same reason why a flying machine with one blade would not work). The motors needed leverage, something to push against. To solve this problem we suspended all the weight below the motors, however it does still remain a technical difficulty that is a product of its desgin. We will now demonstrate this vehicle's power in action...