Mattel Bug Racer Driven By Live Cricket

Mattel's Bug Racer is the toy car you always wanted - because it has a live driver! In this case, a hapless cricket.

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(Mattel Bug Racer video)

Sensors in the car detect where the cricket is and steer according to its movements from one side to the other. A little habitat for the cricket, complete with a spacious living area and a feeding area, slots into the car. The cockpit at the front of the habitat has a magnified windshield for observing your insect driver. When the car bumps into something, which it will, it automatically backs up and repositions before letting the crazy cricket inside continue to terrorize your kitchen.

Bug Racer suggests buying a cricket from a pet store, but it seems more fun to hunt down your own pet racer. And you're not limited to crickets—why not experiment with spiders, small frogs, and other critters to find the best driver?

SF readers may recall the Martian perambulators used in Robert Heinlein's 1951 novel Between Planets to help Martians get around on Earth.

At the ringside opposite them a table had been removed to make room for a large transparent plastic capsule on wheels. Don had never seen one but he recognized its function; it was a Martian's "perambulator," a portable air-conditioning unit to provide the rare, cold air necessary to a Martian aborigine. The occupant could be seen dimly, his frail body supported by a metal articulated servo framework to assist him in coping with the robust gravity of the third planet.

Gamers may recall the Orz from Star Control 2; this race of aliens used an anthropomorphic exoskeleton to get around in when on land (thanks, Yossi).


Orz space marine in combat gear)

Vernor Vinge wrote about a strange race in his 1992 novel A Fire Upon the Deep:

Ravna looked across the surf. When the waves backed down the sand, she could see the Skroderiders' fronds peeping out of the spray... They sat in the surf, thinking thoughts that left no imprint on their minds...

Then some unknown race had chanced upon the dreamers and decided to "help them out." Someone had put them on mobile platforms, the skrodes. With wheels they could move along the seashores, could reach and manipulate with their fronds and tendrils. With the skrode's mechanical short-term memory, they could learn fast enough that their new mobility would not kill them...

Via Road and Track.

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