Called 'Optimus Gennadievich Praimov', the VAZ-2110 Lada car transforms into a giant robot while on the move. But, I'd be wary of lending it for autonomous car research.
A Russian father-son duo has built what possibly is the world's first transformer car. Inspired by the Transformers franchise, Gennadiy and Sergey Kocherga were struck by the idea of building their own robot that would transform into a gigantic gun-wielding beast from a tepid, seemingly harmless car. The father and son spent owned a VAZ-2110 Lada, on which they spent six months to create their very own Transformer robot. To celebrate his own contribution here, Gennadiy has decided to name it 'Optimus Gennadievich Praimov'.
The idea behind this robot struck Gennadiy when he bought a Transformers toy, and subsequently decided to make one of his very own. The car in question, made by Lada, is incidentally one of the most selling and ridiculed car in Russia. Known for its rather bleak looks and almost nothing to excite buyers, Lada cars have often become subject to viral memes. As a result, Mr. Praimov here also retains a slightly underwhelming facade. The overall bearings look rather timid, although there are more things to appreciate here than to criticise. For instance, converting a car to add all the machinery inside, engineering it to make it actually look like a transforming robot, showing off the transformation while on the go and even wielding automatic weapons is a serious bit of achievement for what may have begun as a relatively casual experiment.
"It may not be the brightest idea to make this one autonomous"
For practical barriers and engineering limitations, the robot moves quite slowly, which would not be very ideal in a battle with evil alien robots. But, it is certainly ideal to draw the eyeballs - after all, we do not come across cars every day that suddenly shift into a robot and start shooting. The creation is not perfect, but its creator Gennadiy is quite happy about what he and his son have created. In an interview with Russian publication RT, he says, "It looks like a world-class car, it can drive and shoot, it performs the same tricks as seen in the film, in the cartoons." He is also optimistic about the future of such projects, and wants to create more. "The next year, we plan to build another two cars, based on the same concept. We already have a lot of quirky ideas," says Gennadiy. There's reason enough to be optimistic - if this is what he has come up with in his first attempt, we can legitimately expect better robots in future. He will, though, have to nearly destroy two more of his cars, unless someone else wants their spare car to be a robot, too.
The Optimus Gennadievich Praimov has already travelled across a number of Russian cities to show off its gunslinging skills. This, interestingly, may also be a fascinating experiment ground for autonomous car makers, and our first real opportunity to create a Transformers robot with its own cognitive capabilities, outside computer-created graphics. The question is, should we?
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