Lenore Edman and her husband, Windell Oskay, had wanted to make a robot out of a brush for some time. Visiting hardware stores, they pushed brooms, scrub brushes and wire brushes along the floor to gauge movement and bristle stiffness.
Their “aha” moment came during a visit to the dentist. Handed free toothbrushes, Edman and Oskay smiled. The bristles were pliable. The nylon brush was cheap. And here was a brush that was soft but strong enough to motor.
They cut the toothbrush at its neck, affixed the head with a piece of double-sided tape, and placed a small battery and pager motor on top. Set loose on the floor, the BristleBot, as they called the bug-like brush, vibrated and zoomed to life.
Not long after, in December 2007, they posted an instructional BristleBot video on YouTube. Since then, the concept has inspired a book, “Invasion of the Bristlebots,” and the video has attracted more than 3.7 million views.
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