24 June 2008

Modern industrial equipment

We all have routines at Walt Disney Worlds, traditions of first attractions, must-dos, and habits that have become rituals. Growing up in such a close proximity to Walt Disney World afforded me the opportunity to branch out and find the not-so-imposing attractions to add to my lists of traditions. When in EPCOT Center, a trip was not complete without a ride through Horizons, a trip to the Imagination Pavilion’s Image Works to dabble with the Magic Palettes (a coloring book on a computer screen), and, depending on the year, an afternoon showing of Skylaidescope Lagoon Spectacular and/or a viewing of Expo Robotics.

Expo Robotics was a show that ran in Communicore West from 1988 until 1993. During the show robotic arms, named Ironside and Pixel, would balance tops that were spinning at 2000 revolutions per minute on the edge of a sword, a conductor’s baton, and on top of another top. For their grand finale, the arms would attempt to maneuver a top from one pedestal to another along a piece of string. This should come as much of as surprise, since the arms were accurate to within 1/10,000th of an inch. The robotic arms were also known to create drawings of guests, along with the assistance of a camera.

Standing there watching these robots do things I knew I would never be able to do, I was in awe. I’d like to say I remember thinking about all of the applications these arms would be capable of, or how through technology the world was changing, or even that one day, perhaps, I could build the next great robot. I’d like to say that, but it would be a lie, because what I was thinking about in my all-boy-all-the-time brain, a brain that had been saturated with images and facts about Transformers, GoBots, C-3PO, and R2-D2, was that this was a real robot, that could do real things, and how would I get one?

Robotic technologies may have advanced beyond the talents of Ironside, Pixel, and the rest of the Top-Spinning Robots of Expo Robotics, but it is nice to be able to look back and marvel at their skills. Especially since, even after all these years, I still cannot spin a top at 2000 rotations per minute on the edge of a sword.


1983horizons1 said...

Could these be the same robots that are now used in the Rockin' Robots exhibit in Innoventions West?

DD said...

I never saw this, buts its REALLY cool. The rockin robots are really fun to play with also.

Princess Fee said...

Wow! Thanks for that post - bringing me back to my childhood. I remember seeing the robots and thinking they were amazing... And I managed to get my picture drawn by one of the robot arms too! I'll need to have a look through the old boxes in the loft to see if it's still around... Thanks Ryan!

Anonymous said...

Great post!! Thanks for sharing.. :D