Walking Pod

Walking Pod

It must be difficult being Scott Parenteau, a guy carrying around so much awesome creativity in his head it’s a wonder he can stand up straight. Scott is the proud owner and builder of a 12 foot geodesic dome which has 12 legs and can walk along at up to 0.7 mph. Not exactly quick, but then he never meant it to be.

The Walking Pod, as it is simply called, was inspired by the geodesic domes created by Buckminster Fuller – the American architect, author, designer and inventor, and the wind-walking “Strandenbeest” sculptures developed by Dutch artist Theo Jansen in the early ’90s.

The Walking Pod project began when Scott decided to build a dome to use as a shelter at the 2012 Burning Man Festival, however 4 months before the event he decided it would be even cooler if his dome had legs and could walk. It took a month and a half of planning, and a further 2 and a half months to fabricate. The Walking Pod was finished just in time for the festival.

The first version of the Walking Pod was powered by two 12 volt batteries with a gas generator to recharge the batteries when needed. There was also a small solar panel and wind turbine on the roof, but the power generated from these was negligible and they were mainly used for running the ventilation fan and lights. The drive system was two 90 Volt DC motors (one on each side) each had its own speed controller and could be run in forward or reverse. Turning was accomplished by slowing one side down. Total weight of the first version was 1,600 lbs (725 kgs). Top speed was 0.4 mph. Access into the passenger compartment was via a small ladder which could be lifted up and stored in the dome. The floors were bamboo, with some panels cut out for windows.

Walking Pod

Being the owner of a metalwork company Scott had quite a lot of materials which he could use just laying around his shop, however he estimates that it took aroung $5,000 to get the Walking Pod built. That’s $5,000 very, very well spent in my book.

Soon after the Walking Pod was complete the upgrades began. First came a larger sprocket which doubled the walking speed. Second came an elevator built into the bottom of the vehicle which could lift Scott up into the driver’s seat. At the same time chain guides were added to the 8 sprockets and insulation was added to the inside of the dome.

The most recent update is a more powerful motor and gear drive. The top speed is now 0.7 mph and the total weight is 2,000 lbs (907 kgs).

Since its first outing at the 2012 Burning Man Festival, the Walking Pod has made numerous public appearances, showing up at the Maker Faire San Mateo, cruising the streets of Palo Alto, attending the South Bay Oakland mini Maker Faire, and also being filmed for the Discovery Channel.

Source: Scott Parenteau

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