One man's incredible hobby is another man's vision of the future. Since June of 2005, farmer Joe Murray has been excavating a basement in his home in Saskatchewan Canada using only radio controlled vehicles. The 43 year old R/C enthusiast has documented the process in great detail, creating 150 videos of his bulldozers, excavators, haulers, and other trucks working in his underground lair (see a few examples below). Nearly every step of the process is accomplished through R/C – trucks haul excavators to the site, drills and dirt crumblers break down the walls – there's even a spiral ramp so dump trucks can unload the waste outside. Murray's basement excavation is an incredible feat of radio controlled wizardry, but it may only be a small sign of things to come as humanity experiments with automation, robotics, and long range drones.
With 150 videos to choose from, it's hard to pick just a few to showcase Murray's amazing project. These four, however, give a pretty good idea of the range of work Joe's miniature fleet of vehicles can accomplish. Feel free to skip around, or visit the LilGiantsConstruction YouTube channel to see all the footage of the years and years of R/C excavation. As monotonous as some of these clips may be, they are astoundingly popular, with the YouTube channel garnering more than 3.6 million views!
In interviews with Carscoop and News.com.au Murray has described some of the details of his unusual hobby. Each Winter he mines the walls of his unfinished basement and then hauls the dirt out each summer. He once had a conveyor belt, but now uses a spiral ramp for removal. Murray estimates that he has excavated about 2 to 3 cubic yards of dirt every year for the past seven years. The motivation behind the project is fairly simple: Murray like R/C, and he likes working in his basement over long cold Saskatchewan Winters. He first got interested in the craft back in 1996, and is now modifying and repairing his own vehicles (a skill he even applies to the full sized equipment around his farm), regularly discussing his work on the Scale 4x4RC forums.
For Murray, the R/C came first and the basement was just a neat project to work on. Yet in the future, humanity may reverse those goals. There are prototype flying robots that can erect rudimentary structures on their own. The US military is increasingly investing in long-range drones with both automated and R/C control capabilities. Full scale robot vehicles are now a standard part of warfare, but in a few years that technology is certain to work its way towards commercial application. Murray's fun little dig is actually a good indication that automated or R/C construction is viable, and may even be better under some extreme circumstances (say in space exploration or in disaster relief). Eventually humans may not be directly involved in many construction projects, either directing semi-intelligent robots or controlling them from far away. In the mean time, Murray's basement is nearing completion and the pioneering hobbyist is looking forward to the next R/C construction project. What's next on the agenda? There's a barn that needs updating.
Don't stop what you're doing, Joe. It's just too amazing to watch.