Two-wheeling it southward down Ann Arbor-Saline road early Saturday afternoon, The Chronicle was passed by a car with a “Biodiesel” logo.
The sort of person who drives a car fueled with biodiesel, we figured, would be the same sort who’d be interested in robots, lasers, air cannons, and all manner of other gadgetry. So we figured a little ways down the road, that driver would be turning left into the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds for the MiniMaker Faire.
Anyway, that’s where The Chronicle was headed – and on arrival at the parking lot, we confirmed it: Our biodiesel driver was at the MiniMaker Faire.
The “mini” in the title of the event did not refer to Andros Lee’s giant vortex cannon or Matt Switlik’s standable brush bot – more on those in a bit. Rather, it reflected the scale of the event as compared to the non-mini Maker Faires, which began in San Mateo, Calif. in 2006. That led to the second Maker Faire in Austin, which attracted 20,000 visitors in 2007. Returning to San Mateo earlier this year, Maker Faire numbers grew to an estimated 80,000 people.
As an exhibitor – even at the smaller Ann Arbor MiniMaker Faire on Saturday – standing out in a crowd of over 1,000 people can be a challenge. But Yitah Wu met that challenge by taking dead aim at folks in that crowd, including The Chronicle, with a pistol-style vortex cannon.
Edwin Olson, assistant professor in the University of Michigan’s Computer Science and Engineering department, didn’t know beforehand about the A2Geeks Make TV Movie Night, but when he saw robots in the atrium of the CSE building, he figured it was something he might be interested in and stopped to chat. Olson directs the Autonomy, Perception, Robotics, Intelligence, and Learning (APRIL) lab on the third floor of the building.
Movie night was not an A2Geeks event per se. As Dug Song put it, the organization, which he helped form in November 2008, is meant more to support other existing groups than to run its own events. And on Thursday, the existing group getting some geek love from A2Geeks was GoTech.