Ah, just like the games we used to play back in college.

I wonder if Ron Tajima’s robotics world friends think he has too much time on his hands. I mean, why make a robot out of a beer can? I suppose its ability to walk over to you would be helpful if its tin can interior wasn’t already full of all the gadgetry it needs to be able to walk. But don’t get me wrong, I fully support any creative endeavor that brings together two of my passions.

Oops, maybe I gave it away. In the video below Tajima wants you to guess which of the objects on the table is the robot. At any rate, the CanBot–as Tajima calls it–can do several cool things. After transforming from a beer can to a three-legged robot it can either shuffle its way across flat surfaces or, put it on its side, it can roll.

Beer cans that roll. Impressive right? Actually the legs move in a coordinated manner to keep the rolling under control.

The following video showcases his first CanBot prototype. It has an mbed control board and its powered by batteries. Each leg is moved by two RC servos, and the different CanBot functions–standing, walking, transforming back into a can–are controlled by a Wii game controller. It’s pretty neat to watch, and makes for a great party trick I’m sure.

As I watch Tajima’s son delight in the discovery of the beer can and the wondrous things it is able to do, I am reminded of my own formative years.

Cheers to you, Ron Tajima.

video: CanBot

Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. He earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore studying gene expression in the neocortex. Following his dissertation work he spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the same university studying brain mechanisms of pain and motor control. He completed a collection of short stories in 2010 and has been writing for Singularity Hub since March 2011.