Transformer built from MIT admissions mailing tube

mit-admissions-tube-robotIt’s not quite on the scale of [Michael Bay], but that’s probably a good thing. We do think that this robot built from a mailing tube by [Will Jack] would be right at home in a Transformers movie.

The bot starts out looking like a normal cardboard mailing tube. But the seam at the middle splits to reveal the electronics inside. An Arduino Uno drives the device, monitoring that infrared rangefinder which is facing forward. Each half of the tube acts as a wheel, pushing against the at-rest mass of the internals to create motion. It can even pull off a tank-like pivot to turn in place by spinning he halves in opposite directions.

We were intrigued to hear that the admissions department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sent a single page acceptance letter in these silver tubes to those students accepted into the class of 2017. The letter invites the incoming class to hack the tube and send in their results. We’re going to have to dig through the submissions and see if there are any other noteworthy projects.

21 thoughts on “Transformer built from MIT admissions mailing tube

        1. It could easily use the same arm as the saw blade for that, just put a small wheel on either side of the blade just far enough in that the blade sticks out enough to cut through the tube, this would even assist in cutting since the cutting wheel would be stabilized by the skid wheel.

  1. How is momentum conserved here? Without any reference solid object to hold onto while spinning the outer shell, I would expect the inner circuitry and motors to spin instead of the outer

    1. friction and gravity.

      the outer shell grips with friction, and the internal components will be bottom weighted.
      When you move the weight up and to one side, the tube rotates to keep the weight on the bottom.

  2. You guys are really close on all your comments, but don’t you recognize this kid? Isn’t he the one that built the fusion reactor in his basement?

  3. A small, thin bead of clear silicone around the circumference of the white end caps would provide traction without changing the appearance of the tube.

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