Sunday, May 30, 2010

"I see no reason why legs should not be as fundamentally a motive force as wheels"

Signor D. G. Alzetta's "Mechanical Horse" (Meccanica Cavallo) was built in 1932

Described in the papers at the time it was "designed to substitute for the farm animal or even light tractor, has been invented by an engineer here, Signor D. G. Alzetta. Propelled by a motor of only 5 horse power, the uncanny mechanical animal not only carries a person but pulls a light farm vehicle over rough ground. The metal beast presents a weird appearance as its long skinny legs carry it along at a fair speed. It reminds the spectator of a huge grasshopper, or better still, of something seen in a bad dream.

The mechanical animal is made entirely of light steel tubing. The joints have been carefully worked out. Signor Alzetta says he studied equine anatomy to produce them. The driver sits amidships, on a spring-equipped motorcycle saddle, The motor is directly in front of him. Ahead rises the ominous-looking head and shoulders, he controls the "critter" by motorcycle handlebars and a lever. He starts it off at a walk and can get it up to a trot, but not a gallop.
Signor Alzetta's next development is to equip his quadruped with a higher-powered motor, to see if it will draw a plow.

"I see no reason why legs should not be as fundamentally a motive force as wheels," Signor Alzetta said. "Practically everything that nature permits to move, except the enormous forces of the sea and glaciers, gets there on legs. Wheels were the invention or afterthought of men."

Via: Cybernetic Zoo

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