Animatronic Nikola Tesla Sets The Record Straight

While the Hackaday reader likely knows all about Nikola Tesla and his incredible body of work, the same can’t necessarily be said for the average passerby. Even a child can be counted on to know the names of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell, but as [Daniel Springwald] laments, the name Tesla is more often associated with the line of sleek electric cars than the brilliant Serbian inventor they were named for.

Hoping to level the playing field a bit, [Daniel] has come up with a way for the great man to plead his case. This custom designed robotic facsimile of the alternating current aficionado is able to speak about Tesla’s life and accomplishments in an interactive, if rather creepy, format.

There isn’t a lot of technical detail on this one yet, but what we can glean from the image gallery and video below is that there are an incredible number of OpenSCAD-designed 3D printed parts knocking around inside Mr. Tesla’s head. Add into the mix a healthy dose of springs, linkages, and servos, and you’re just a mustache short of a museum exhibit.

Most of the animatronic projects we’ve covered in the past have been based on animals, so it’s certainly interesting to see what goes into approximating human mannerisms mechanically. We’re not sure if this talking Tesla head will help educate the masses, but it’s certainly an impressive technical achievement.

18 thoughts on “Animatronic Nikola Tesla Sets The Record Straight

  1. “Even a child can be counted on to know the names of Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell”

    I would argue, that Tesla is more famous amongst children, even before the car, because of the use of his name in video games, books and movies, for all kinds of sci-fi technology.

    “We’re not sure if this talking Tesla head will help educate the masses, but it’s certainly an impressive technical achievement.”

    Agreed.

    1. Yeah. Talk of Tesla always comes with this kind of cred for being obscure, but he’s really not. Which is good. People’s efforts to get his name up there with the other greats (some were not nearly as deserving) seems to have worked. I learned more about Edison in school myself, but I’m kind of old. So are a lot of y’all I’m afraid… sorry you had to learn about it this way :)

      1. Yeah i learned a lot about edison as a kid. Unfortunately it was all a lie Henry Woodward made the light bulb, edison bought the patent he never invented anything. He hired a team of enginerers at Menlo Park to make stuff for him.

  2. “Setting the record straight”

    I can’t wait for the animatronic tesla to explain to the kids about his gambling addiction, his personality disorders and his problems to separate reality from fiction.

    Also, to explain to them that the one who really stole money from him was Marconi, not Edison.

    As for recognition: I would say millenials and Gen Z’s have grown with a more positive and public image of Tesla, while Boomers and Gen X’s are more used to know more about Edison. The obsolescence of the light bulb may help bury Edison to oblivion.

      1. Although most of the info I already knew, it is a very interesting video that summarizes many of the points I tried to make to my friends for years (while trying to convince the local steampunk community they should idolize Edison, the rude tinkerer instead of Tesla, the mad scholar). Thanks for sharing it!

        My only qualm with the video is that it doesn’t put much time on marconi’s legal maneuvers to take away tesla’s patents. While Tesla didn’t care much about radio transmission, he demonstrated it and his patents were sound. But Marconi had a more practical mind and the army wanted him to develop freely, so they pressured to invalidate Tesla’s patents.

    1. Yah, they were all pretty flawed. Maybe history will look better on Tesla since his flaws were more mental than moral so probably not his fault. Still, came to say that an animatronic Tesla cannot be considered complete until it has a pigeon feeder built in.

      Also, didn’t the SMBC already pretty much take care of Tesla’s legacy? Maybe it’s time for an animatronic Edwin Howard Armstrong. Now there’s a tragic story.

  3. “While the Hackaday reader likely knows all about Nikola Tesla and his incredible body of work, the same can’t necessarily be said for the average passerby.”

    Really? I feel the exact opposite. I feel like he is so over-hyped, to the point where people are using him as a proof of free energy and other stuff just because “Tesla said so”.

    Largest motor company has his name, a lot of mentions in pop-culture.
    He was a good inventor, but it shouldn’t be overdone.

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