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The Mini Cooper Autonomous Robot
image Colin Mayhew, an engineer at a British division of BMW, decided to convert a mini cooper r50 into an autonomous biped robot. The results are quite impressive. In particular, check out this video. The no-frills design of the page makes it seem quite believable. But sleuths on Slashdot have determined that it's a hoax. The url is registered to an ad agency working for BMW. (via Things Magazine)
Categories: AdvertisingTechnologyWebsites
Posted by The Curator on Tue Mar 30, 2004
I know this sounds crazy... but the current buzz is that the ad agency rumor was false. Some chap in the UK who lives near the whois address said there used to be a production agency there but now is just an empty wearhouse with a few offices above it.
Posted by Samir Kahn  in  SF  on  Tue Mar 30, 2004  at  05:31 PM
After extensive research I have come to the conclusion that this is not a hoax. There is too much convincing evidence and too little evidence of a hoax.

Thanks You
e-mail me for any questions
Posted by J Palmer  in  USA  on  Sat Apr 10, 2004  at  09:47 PM
No, it's a hoax alright. A marketing ploy. Check out the May issue of Motor Trend magazine. You'll find an ad in there disquised as a "book excerpt". After reading that, you'll see that it's obviously not real.
Posted by J Casignon  on  Thu Apr 15, 2004  at  04:20 PM
This is definitely a hoax. When you check out the above video, watch the shadows closely. You will see that the robot's shadow is quite dark and comes towards the camera. When the land rover drives in, you can see its shadow goes the opposite direction, away from the camera.
Someone did a great job of making the robot look realistic, but forgot about coordinating the shadows.
Posted by T Randolph  in  Virginia  on  Fri Apr 16, 2004  at  04:53 PM
This is not a hoax. My friend has a book about this. A reporter wrote it, it is really his journal, and he tracks this robot. it was built to help endangered people on the roads, and there have been many accounts of being "lifted into the air by a huge metal hand" at night. Call me crazy, but thats a little in depth to be a marketing scheeme. or however you spell it.
Posted by bobby atwell  in  florida  on  Thu Apr 22, 2004  at  08:22 PM
how could this be a hoax when the man does a arm test for dexterity. this is cleary the real deal, everyone that says this is a hoax is probaly jealous they wernt smart enough to make a robot.
Posted by shawn  on  Thu Apr 22, 2004  at  10:39 PM
This first triggered my spidey senses when I found it in book form in a recent Esquire Magazine. This is the typical modus operandi for Mini advertising, and the fact that the book/story focused on an apparent Mini engineer only further tipped the scales toward marketing hoax. I have never, in the past 4 years of subscribing, had any other Casson Publishing book excerpts included in my Esquire. I have, however, had numerous Mini pull out ads, books, stickers, etc. Of course there will be little evidence to corroberate the myth or to deny it, because it is supposedly an exposed secret--exposed by one source, the book, which is not currently available for sale, however is being distributed in excerpt in all the places Mini Cooper normally advertises. I also suspect any of the above posts claiming this is not a hoax to be from wankers or employees of the marketing firm itself.
Posted by CeeGee BeeGee  in  USA  on  Mon Apr 26, 2004  at  02:54 PM
Folks who dismiss this as a hoax might find themselves missing out on playing a very fun Alternate Reality Game like the last one that BMW did that ended with someone winning a sportcar. Check here: http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=4128
Posted by Tien Le  on  Mon Apr 26, 2004  at  03:12 PM
Forgot to note...it was the APRIL edition of Esquire that this appeared in. As in April Fools!

Not that it isn't clever.
Posted by CeeGee BeeGee  in  USA  on  Mon Apr 26, 2004  at  03:37 PM
This appeared as a book excerpt in May 2004 issue of National Geographic Traveler - seemed convincing at first, at least as a clever piece of fiction. After reading posts here, I think it must just be a mini ad.
Posted by sharon  on  Tue Apr 27, 2004  at  05:09 AM
As for the shadows in the "car stopping"video,if you look closely you'll see the shadow from the robot is comes from the light of the window.The wall blocks that light from hitting the rover,thus the rover shadow is caused by the lights of the facility,this would also explain any difference in shadow density or direction.I was really shook up by that video.If this is not a hoax,the impact of this technology will change everything.
Posted by jgallegos  in  california  on  Sat May 15, 2004  at  01:58 PM
Use your brains people... if this is not a hoax, don't you think that there would be some news media attention? Heck, on Tech TV, they just did a story about a guy who made his own Segway, don't you think a giant robot that can change tires and jumpstart cars is worthy of attention?
Posted by Bob S. Yunkle  on  Fri May 21, 2004  at  01:01 PM
This is not a hoax, my grandmother who happens to live in Chessex, decided to take her new mini out for a drive to her friends house. It was a very rainy day and the roads were very wet. Anyways she was heading along her normal route when a flock of cats decided to run across the road. My grandmother being the good and kind loving lady that she is, tried desperately to swerve out of their way. Her car was veering out of control and heading towards a ditch. This was when she said she felt the presence of God. Her car miraculously floated in mid air for a moment and was set gently back on the road. A giant shadowy figure was seen in her rear. I havent heard the end of this story as it is reapeted every time I visit for tea. I believe her.
Posted by Wayne Saunders  in  USA  on  Sun May 23, 2004  at  07:42 PM
It never ceases to amaze me how many morons there are out there. You people should be proud of yourselves for so conclusively proving that.

"There's a sucker born every minute." -P.T. Barnum
Posted by Pete Waydo  in  USA  on  Wed May 26, 2004  at  05:56 PM
It's a "hoax". The ad agency is Crispin-Porter-Boguspy (sp?), based out of the US, Miami, I think. They specialize in "viral" marketing like this, they also did the "subservientchicken.com" videos.

-HX, less of a "hoax", more just a particularly clever ad campaign...
Posted by Hooper_X  in  Atlanta, GA  on  Tue Jun 01, 2004  at  12:13 AM
Weak minds negate the less obvious and unexplainable. Strong minds openly absorb the possible.

--Eienstien
Posted by Demon24  on  Fri Jun 11, 2004  at  07:28 PM
Look, this has obviously been out long enough that if it were real, there would be a huge fuss about it. As it stands, it's obviously just an add-- the word "mini cooper" just appears too much.
Posted by D  on  Tue Jun 15, 2004  at  06:56 PM
This is scary stuff. autonomous robots aren't something you should just tinker with and set out in public unsupervised. What if this...thing begins to "think" for itself and decide it's being helpful by inadvertantly hurting people. It's not so bad if it hurts criminals. I wouldn't mind this thing coming along if someone was trying to hurt my family and it ran them off or better, held them for the police. But what if it's just ambling along, sees a situation that it can't figure out easily who is "right" and who is "wrong"? What's it going to do then? I hope these things aren't out yet. If they are, they should be outlawed in america. I don't mind if the english have them roaming around as I don't travel there.
Posted by J.Neumann  in  Houston  on  Thu Jun 17, 2004  at  02:44 AM
u all r stoopid.

this is real

my aunt has this guy that she knows who heard from somenoe that it's TRUE

so yur all just jealos
Posted by brad  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  04:18 PM
Wayne Saunders....You are retarded.
Posted by Shwag  in  US  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  05:47 PM
I know Wayne Saunders personally and he is not developmentally challenged. I also happen to know his Grandmother, a delightful woman with a spryness that belies her advanced years. If Grandma Saunders says it's so, then it is so. And, for those of you who doubt me, you should know that Optimus Prime and I are quite close. He would be more than willing to provide references, if it comes to that.
Posted by ponder stibbons  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  10:28 PM
I am Wayne Saunders' grnadmother, and I simply abhor that he is being criticised for simply relating one of my own personal experiences. So I've decided to post my own account so as to get him off the hook. First of all, it was not God I felt, but, I belive, one of these gigantic autonomous mini cooper conversion contraptions, and it not only saved me from imminent disaster, but also criticised the flock of cats in question and found them all loving homes. And as for you, "Shwag", if that is your real name, which i doubt, if you ever question my fine young grandson's mental capacity again, I shall beat your candy-ass blue and punch the heart out of your sunken chest, you pea-brained crotch-jockey.
Posted by Pleasance Braithwaite-Saunders  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  10:42 PM
After 12 years of sunday school and 6 years of boarding school turned me into a bipedal robot concerned only with the endless consumption of (low octane) beer and crap electronics, I can't deny the possibility of this godly mini-me. Are there female versions or do they all have that wimpy hair dryer handing off the front?
Posted by JohnA  in  Sydney Australia  on  Mon Jun 28, 2004  at  06:08 AM
Listen guys this is true. I live next door to wayne and one day i was just playing with my microwave and i looked out the window and saw wanye and his robot. I saw the robot making lemonaid and playing the banjo. So I walked over there and I asked wayne if his robot would give me a haircut. wayne said sure and proceded to press a few buttons on a small white keypad. the robot put an apron on itself and was about to begin when all of the sudden grandma saunders ran out of the house. she was screaming about how she had just seen a ghost. waynes robot immediatly heard this and began to use his electromagnetic photons to disprupt the quantum layer of the astroplain, there by eleminating any need for a setbelt to secure my head in place. thank god for that. so to make a long story short, me, wanye, grandma, and r50 had some more special tea and grasshoppers.
Posted by HUH?  in  UK  on  Sat Jul 17, 2004  at  01:04 AM
I think this is a conspiracy initiated by the molson brewing co. they are orchestrating this plan to put all American brewing companies out of business. This robot is able to save and fix cars. thus eliminating the need for towtrucks. further more, we all know that towtruck drivers consume more then 87% of all domestic beers. I also believe that this is interrelated to the polish sausage industry, seeing as the U.K. has had many disputes over who shall reclaim rights to the original style of bratwurst, beer battered or regular.
Posted by Estofon  on  Sat Jul 17, 2004  at  01:13 AM
This is fake. I cant beleive anyone would beleive this. If this were real, it would be all over the news. remember when the segway came out? it got so much publicity and it wasn't even that great. http://www.maddox.xmission.com/c.cgi?u=segway_more_complicated_than_it_needs_to_be yeah, Segway is so amazing. but this, this is a gigantic robot made out of a car that stops people from crashing.
http://www.ai.mit.edu/projects/leglab/robots/robots.html
look at that^ there is a University (Massichussets Instatute of Technology AKA MIT) that is dedicated to technology and robotics. Here is a video of their latest project as of 1998. it's hard to imagine that 4 years later, some guy turns a car into i giant huminoid robot that can lift up cars. Once again, this invention would be all over the news if it were real.
Posted by karl the dog  on  Sun Jul 18, 2004  at  07:19 PM
Here is the truth, the robots are real I was there to see one. It was late, the car in front of us slid out of control. Out of the blue a giant robot with horns came and was narrowly able to stop the car before impact with a tree. We drove away as fast as we could with fear in our hearts. They ARE REAL and they WILL TURN ON US.
Posted by Turd Furgison  in  Oxford, UK  on  Thu Jul 22, 2004  at  07:58 PM
Me and my Alternator buddies are real. You better believe it. If you want me to protect your house and stop you from crashing, you can order me pretty soon as well, here for example:

http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/toystan.asp?Queryid=pr060
Posted by Bumblebee  in  Normally, Cybertron - but currently at Autobotcity  on  Fri Jul 23, 2004  at  03:21 PM
This is so obviously fake that it makes me laugh.

note that in the videos the robot white backgrounds were used to make the CG easier to draw. The orange lines on the car stopping video is to give the CG artist references to create a more convincing CG.

Also look at this:

http://www.adrants.com/2004/05/nyt-catches-up-on-month-old-mini.php
Posted by Common sense  on  Fri Jul 23, 2004  at  06:50 PM
real... http://www.r50rd.co.uk/research/internal/v2i/engin/ now embraced by cooper

http://www.miniusa.com/crm/robots/robot_configurator.jsp?model=coopers
Posted by m.wood  on  Fri Aug 20, 2004  at  05:40 PM
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