Carl Friedrich Gauss was, to say the least, a polymath who was responsible for a large percentage of the things we take for granted in the modern world. As a physicist and mathematician, he pioneered several fields of study, including magnetism. But since he died decades before the first car was built, it is unlikely that he could have envisioned this creation, a magnetic streetcar racetrack named the Gauss Speedway by [Jeff McBride]which bears the name of the famous scientist.
Gauss Speedway takes its inspiration from a recent development in robotics, where many small robots can travel around a large area using circuit tracks integrated into their area of operation. With the right current applied to these tracks, magnetic fields are generated that drive the robots. [Jeff] wanted to build something similar, integrated into a printed circuit board directly, and came up with the idea of a slot machine. The small cars have tiny magnets in them that interact with the tracks in the PCB, allowing the cars to move with high precision around the track. He ditched the traditional slot controller in favor of a push button style direct on PCB too, meaning everything is fully integrated.
Although this was more of a demonstration or proof-of-concept, some of the features of this style of robot can be seen in this video, which shows them moving extremely fast with high precision, on uneven surfaces or even up walls. Magnetic robots like these are having quite a renaissance, and we’ve even seen some using magnetism to change shape.
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