The Mini Cooper Autonomous Robot

image Colin Mayhew, an engineer at a British division of BMW, decided to convert a mini cooper r50 into an autonomous biped robot. The results are quite impressive. In particular, check out this video. The no-frills design of the page makes it seem quite believable. But sleuths on Slashdot have determined that it's a hoax. The url is registered to an ad agency working for BMW. (via Things Magazine)

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Posted on Mon Mar 29, 2004


I know this sounds crazy... but the current buzz is that the ad agency rumor was false. Some chap in the UK who lives near the whois address said there used to be a production agency there but now is just an empty wearhouse with a few offices above it.
Posted by Samir Kahn  on  Tue Mar 30, 2004  at  03:31 PM
After extensive research I have come to the conclusion that this is not a hoax. There is too much convincing evidence and too little evidence of a hoax.

Thanks You
e-mail me for any questions
Posted by J Palmer  on  Sat Apr 10, 2004  at  07:47 PM
No, it's a hoax alright. A marketing ploy. Check out the May issue of Motor Trend magazine. You'll find an ad in there disquised as a "book excerpt". After reading that, you'll see that it's obviously not real.
Posted by J Casignon  on  Thu Apr 15, 2004  at  02:20 PM
This is definitely a hoax. When you check out the above video, watch the shadows closely. You will see that the robot's shadow is quite dark and comes towards the camera. When the land rover drives in, you can see its shadow goes the opposite direction, away from the camera.
Someone did a great job of making the robot look realistic, but forgot about coordinating the shadows.
Posted by T Randolph  on  Fri Apr 16, 2004  at  02:53 PM
This is not a hoax. My friend has a book about this. A reporter wrote it, it is really his journal, and he tracks this robot. it was built to help endangered people on the roads, and there have been many accounts of being "lifted into the air by a huge metal hand" at night. Call me crazy, but thats a little in depth to be a marketing scheeme. or however you spell it.
Posted by bobby atwell  on  Thu Apr 22, 2004  at  06:22 PM
how could this be a hoax when the man does a arm test for dexterity. this is cleary the real deal, everyone that says this is a hoax is probaly jealous they wernt smart enough to make a robot.
Posted by shawn  on  Thu Apr 22, 2004  at  08:39 PM
This first triggered my spidey senses when I found it in book form in a recent Esquire Magazine. This is the typical modus operandi for Mini advertising, and the fact that the book/story focused on an apparent Mini engineer only further tipped the scales toward marketing hoax. I have never, in the past 4 years of subscribing, had any other Casson Publishing book excerpts included in my Esquire. I have, however, had numerous Mini pull out ads, books, stickers, etc. Of course there will be little evidence to corroberate the myth or to deny it, because it is supposedly an exposed secret--exposed by one source, the book, which is not currently available for sale, however is being distributed in excerpt in all the places Mini Cooper normally advertises. I also suspect any of the above posts claiming this is not a hoax to be from wankers or employees of the marketing firm itself.
Posted by CeeGee BeeGee  on  Mon Apr 26, 2004  at  12:54 PM
Folks who dismiss this as a hoax might find themselves missing out on playing a very fun Alternate Reality Game like the last one that BMW did that ended with someone winning a sportcar. Check here:
Posted by Tien Le  on  Mon Apr 26, 2004  at  01:12 PM
Forgot to was the APRIL edition of Esquire that this appeared in. As in April Fools!

Not that it isn't clever.
Posted by CeeGee BeeGee  on  Mon Apr 26, 2004  at  01:37 PM
This appeared as a book excerpt in May 2004 issue of National Geographic Traveler - seemed convincing at first, at least as a clever piece of fiction. After reading posts here, I think it must just be a mini ad.
Posted by sharon  on  Tue Apr 27, 2004  at  03:09 AM
As for the shadows in the "car stopping"video,if you look closely you'll see the shadow from the robot is comes from the light of the window.The wall blocks that light from hitting the rover,thus the rover shadow is caused by the lights of the facility,this would also explain any difference in shadow density or direction.I was really shook up by that video.If this is not a hoax,the impact of this technology will change everything.
Posted by jgallegos  on  Sat May 15, 2004  at  11:58 AM
Use your brains people... if this is not a hoax, don't you think that there would be some news media attention? Heck, on Tech TV, they just did a story about a guy who made his own Segway, don't you think a giant robot that can change tires and jumpstart cars is worthy of attention?
Posted by Bob S. Yunkle  on  Fri May 21, 2004  at  11:01 AM
This is not a hoax, my grandmother who happens to live in Chessex, decided to take her new mini out for a drive to her friends house. It was a very rainy day and the roads were very wet. Anyways she was heading along her normal route when a flock of cats decided to run across the road. My grandmother being the good and kind loving lady that she is, tried desperately to swerve out of their way. Her car was veering out of control and heading towards a ditch. This was when she said she felt the presence of God. Her car miraculously floated in mid air for a moment and was set gently back on the road. A giant shadowy figure was seen in her rear. I havent heard the end of this story as it is reapeted every time I visit for tea. I believe her.
Posted by Wayne Saunders  on  Sun May 23, 2004  at  05:42 PM
It never ceases to amaze me how many morons there are out there. You people should be proud of yourselves for so conclusively proving that.

"There's a sucker born every minute." -P.T. Barnum
Posted by Pete Waydo  on  Wed May 26, 2004  at  03:56 PM
It's a "hoax". The ad agency is Crispin-Porter-Boguspy (sp?), based out of the US, Miami, I think. They specialize in "viral" marketing like this, they also did the "" videos.

-HX, less of a "hoax", more just a particularly clever ad campaign...
Posted by Hooper_X  on  Mon May 31, 2004  at  10:13 PM
Weak minds negate the less obvious and unexplainable. Strong minds openly absorb the possible.

Posted by Demon24  on  Fri Jun 11, 2004  at  05:28 PM
Look, this has obviously been out long enough that if it were real, there would be a huge fuss about it. As it stands, it's obviously just an add-- the word "mini cooper" just appears too much.
Posted by D  on  Tue Jun 15, 2004  at  04:56 PM
This is scary stuff. autonomous robots aren't something you should just tinker with and set out in public unsupervised. What if this...thing begins to "think" for itself and decide it's being helpful by inadvertantly hurting people. It's not so bad if it hurts criminals. I wouldn't mind this thing coming along if someone was trying to hurt my family and it ran them off or better, held them for the police. But what if it's just ambling along, sees a situation that it can't figure out easily who is "right" and who is "wrong"? What's it going to do then? I hope these things aren't out yet. If they are, they should be outlawed in america. I don't mind if the english have them roaming around as I don't travel there.
Posted by J.Neumann  on  Thu Jun 17, 2004  at  12:44 AM
u all r stoopid.

this is real

my aunt has this guy that she knows who heard from somenoe that it's TRUE

so yur all just jealos
Posted by brad  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  02:18 PM
Wayne Saunders....You are retarded.
Posted by Shwag  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  03:47 PM
I know Wayne Saunders personally and he is not developmentally challenged. I also happen to know his Grandmother, a delightful woman with a spryness that belies her advanced years. If Grandma Saunders says it's so, then it is so. And, for those of you who doubt me, you should know that Optimus Prime and I are quite close. He would be more than willing to provide references, if it comes to that.
Posted by ponder stibbons  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  08:28 PM
I am Wayne Saunders' grnadmother, and I simply abhor that he is being criticised for simply relating one of my own personal experiences. So I've decided to post my own account so as to get him off the hook. First of all, it was not God I felt, but, I belive, one of these gigantic autonomous mini cooper conversion contraptions, and it not only saved me from imminent disaster, but also criticised the flock of cats in question and found them all loving homes. And as for you, "Shwag", if that is your real name, which i doubt, if you ever question my fine young grandson's mental capacity again, I shall beat your candy-ass blue and punch the heart out of your sunken chest, you pea-brained crotch-jockey.
Posted by Pleasance Braithwaite-Saunders  on  Wed Jun 23, 2004  at  08:42 PM
After 12 years of sunday school and 6 years of boarding school turned me into a bipedal robot concerned only with the endless consumption of (low octane) beer and crap electronics, I can't deny the possibility of this godly mini-me. Are there female versions or do they all have that wimpy hair dryer handing off the front?
Posted by JohnA  on  Mon Jun 28, 2004  at  04:08 AM
Listen guys this is true. I live next door to wayne and one day i was just playing with my microwave and i looked out the window and saw wanye and his robot. I saw the robot making lemonaid and playing the banjo. So I walked over there and I asked wayne if his robot would give me a haircut. wayne said sure and proceded to press a few buttons on a small white keypad. the robot put an apron on itself and was about to begin when all of the sudden grandma saunders ran out of the house. she was screaming about how she had just seen a ghost. waynes robot immediatly heard this and began to use his electromagnetic photons to disprupt the quantum layer of the astroplain, there by eleminating any need for a setbelt to secure my head in place. thank god for that. so to make a long story short, me, wanye, grandma, and r50 had some more special tea and grasshoppers.
Posted by HUH?  on  Fri Jul 16, 2004  at  11:04 PM
I think this is a conspiracy initiated by the molson brewing co. they are orchestrating this plan to put all American brewing companies out of business. This robot is able to save and fix cars. thus eliminating the need for towtrucks. further more, we all know that towtruck drivers consume more then 87% of all domestic beers. I also believe that this is interrelated to the polish sausage industry, seeing as the U.K. has had many disputes over who shall reclaim rights to the original style of bratwurst, beer battered or regular.
Posted by Estofon  on  Fri Jul 16, 2004  at  11:13 PM
This is fake. I cant beleive anyone would beleive this. If this were real, it would be all over the news. remember when the segway came out? it got so much publicity and it wasn't even that great. yeah, Segway is so amazing. but this, this is a gigantic robot made out of a car that stops people from crashing.
look at that^ there is a University (Massichussets Instatute of Technology AKA MIT) that is dedicated to technology and robotics. Here is a video of their latest project as of 1998. it's hard to imagine that 4 years later, some guy turns a car into i giant huminoid robot that can lift up cars. Once again, this invention would be all over the news if it were real.
Posted by karl the dog  on  Sun Jul 18, 2004  at  05:19 PM
Here is the truth, the robots are real I was there to see one. It was late, the car in front of us slid out of control. Out of the blue a giant robot with horns came and was narrowly able to stop the car before impact with a tree. We drove away as fast as we could with fear in our hearts. They ARE REAL and they WILL TURN ON US.
Posted by Turd Furgison  on  Thu Jul 22, 2004  at  05:58 PM
Me and my Alternator buddies are real. You better believe it. If you want me to protect your house and stop you from crashing, you can order me pretty soon as well, here for example:
Posted by Bumblebee  on  Fri Jul 23, 2004  at  01:21 PM
This is so obviously fake that it makes me laugh.

note that in the videos the robot white backgrounds were used to make the CG easier to draw. The orange lines on the car stopping video is to give the CG artist references to create a more convincing CG.

Also look at this:
Posted by Common sense  on  Fri Jul 23, 2004  at  04:50 PM
real... now embraced by cooper
Posted by m.wood  on  Fri Aug 20, 2004  at  03:40 PM
M Wood... Real, as in a real advertisment. Fake as in THERE'S NO MINI ROBOT. Don't you think that this would be front page news by now if it was real?
Posted by Drunk Stepdad  on  Fri Sep 10, 2004  at  03:04 AM
If you want to see a REAL mecha checkout this site, sure its shameless, but not as shameless as intentionally trying to dupe people with a CG Mecha which is totally fake, a good fake, but a fake nonetheless. Kudos to the rednerers of that fake! The NMX04-1A is quite real and shall soon be seen by the world as it debuts upon its completion. If you dont think that mecha are an inevitability, think again.
Posted by Charles Alvarez  on  Tue Sep 21, 2004  at  06:25 PM
this robot is real. yaaaaay
Posted by bob  on  Thu Dec 30, 2004  at  06:41 PM
The argument that this must be fake because "its not all over the news!" is false based on precedent alone. When Honda introduced their bipedal robots back in the mid 90's they received very little coverage until several years later.
Posted by craig  on  Thu Jan 06, 2005  at  05:13 PM
This Mini Cooper robot thing is a really cool idea. I am currently tryig to reaserch it for a project on hoaxes. It seems to me like a lot of work to put into making this whole thing up, especially with that "Man of Metal" insert. The video on the website itself shows a shadow formed by the robot but not by the car. If this was a hoax and the robot was digitally put in, wouldn't the editor notice somthing as glaring as that??? There are also the eyewittness accounts which are questionable as well. When I get some more solid evidence I will relay it.
Posted by Thomas  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  10:57 PM
Okay. Enough! I think I ought to step in here now. I am from the company that made the advert. We filmed in a disused warehouse a few months ago. The Landrover was actually the fake. The shadows were placed incorrectly, which was realised too late. The robot was actually REAL and WAS made from the Mini parts. However, the big black cable connecting it was liquorice. The robot could only be run on black liquorice. There were NOT computers running it! Our control unit for it consisted of a hampster running on a wheel, with a dynamo connected. This generated the 6vdc required to power this 3 tonne machine. Also, to keep the weight down, the entire machine was made out of cornflake boxes and sticky back plastic. So now you know!
Now back to breaking out of this damned padded cell....
Posted by Dave Francis  on  Sat Jan 15, 2005  at  02:54 PM
......all robots are evil. EVIL!!!

Their in the pipes you know. Just watching me. Waiting. Waiting. They want to hurt me. Evil pipe monsters are everywhere. Controlled by the imps. They live in the plumbing. Help

<that was an excerpt taken from the mind of one of the believers of the story>

Posted by Dave Francis  on  Sat Jan 15, 2005  at  03:04 PM
-----That was an excerpt from the mind of one of the believers of the initial story-----
Posted by Dave  on  Sat Jan 15, 2005  at  03:07 PM
you all got pwnd!!!!!!!1111111oneoneoneKEKEKEKEK^____^
Posted by Billy  on  Sat Jan 22, 2005  at  04:28 AM
It's a hoax. I'm a mechanical engineer who did a Master's in robotics. Balance is still beyond us. Most walking robots have been pre-programmed and if you nudge them they would fall. The robotics research community never heard of it (and my group has read many many papers, no mention of this), meaning its not real, and there's nothing to support it. The robotic arm dexteritiy test isn't much of a test. You can purchase an arm like that from Kuka or many other companies for $50,000, and program it. Lastly, and this is the giveaway, try to go to the very top page, and it redirects to the very page in question... why would it do that? You can figure it out. Balance seems natural to us but we're just at the tip of the iceberg!
Posted by Peabody  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  06:47 PM
Alright, I'll buy the lighting argument. However, weather or not this thing exists, I do find it hard to believe there hasn't been any leaks as to the where-abouts, and no media coverage of the thing opperating.

Also, these stories about "so-and-so's life was saved by a giant robot" are crap. If this guy who's built this thing was any sort of respectible engineer, he wouldn't have just cut it lose on the roads. There would have been legal matters to deal with, and most likely he would have held an ceremony of some sort to commemorate the activation of the first roadside assistance robot.

And, to further stab at you dopes who believe this crap, I've watched that video, and read the stuff on how it works using flywheels to store kinetic energy and whatnot. Even if he could walk, and think for it's self in any sort of manner, there's no way it would be able to completely lift a vehicle from the ground. It just lacks the structural integrity to do something like that.

So, what's my conclusion? All you who believe this is real are dopes, and everyone else, koodos for being smart enough to look around and get the real facts.
Posted by Josh  on  Fri Feb 18, 2005  at  01:27 AM
BTW, looks like Citroen made their own robot, and it even transforms!
Posted by Josh  on  Fri Feb 18, 2005  at  03:10 AM
Actually, The link for that robot is here

It's even more realistic looking than the Mini-Cooper Transforming.....this one is REAL I SWEAR!!!!LOL....Cuz, see, one time, my cousins Grandmother was having tea, and she told me that she had a Citreon, and she pressed a flashy button, and saved a brigde from falling and crushing a family of pink three legged kittens!

Josh believes her, she won't stop talking about it.....I wish the old hag would shut it!

So two weeks ago, she was talking about it again...and i just couldn't handle I beat the old lady with her own cane...where was the robot then???
Posted by Ryan  on  Fri Feb 18, 2005  at  01:47 PM
Ok ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, aaaaand the two drunks in the back row. Heres my take on the situation from my observations alone, First of all I believe and know that we do have the technology to create such things as this robot here, and all quite easily if you know what parts you need and where to get them, however most people dont take the time to realize that a good portion of the parts to make a simple robot lie all around their house, so why not someone who has a whole slew of vehicle and motor parts lying around the warehouse and an inordinately large amount of free time on their hands? Ok now that I've made note of the positive things let me give away this guys secret by telling you the damning and conclusive evidence that what he has here is a hoax. Look at the segment of where the robot catches the car, and observe the lighting, no it has nothing to do with shadows etc. though I will admit that those were artfully done if nothing else, but pay attention to the reflection on the car window itself. See anything missing? And even if the lighting were placed somewhere else, the very size of the robot itself would still cast a reflection in the windows, even if it was just its head, especially if you know a thing or two about relative math applications comparing differing sizes of matter and reflective properties of glass. So if this isn't a hoax, wheres the robots reflection on the glass? For it not to have a reflection at all in the side windows, the lighting itself would inevitably HAVE to be on the opposite side of the vehicle as the robot facing DIRECTLY towards the robot itself, so bravo to the gentleman who set this whole thing up, for a moment you almost had me fooled.....almost.

Posted by Glaredog  on  Fri Mar 18, 2005  at  09:54 PM
"aaaaand the two drunks in the back row" - Glaredog

Umm, there's only one of me, I'm not THAT fat.
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Fri Mar 18, 2005  at  10:06 PM
I know this is real. Amerika has an evil robot that has TAKEN CONTROL OF THE COUNTRY! It looks like a 40-something frat-boy but it has become OUR PRESIDENT! Who is pushing the buttons? The DEMOCRATS! They made a robot that looks and sounds dumb so that you would RUN AWAY FROM IT! And into the liberal-loving arms of the DEMOCRATIC AGENDA!

They want your kids to become HOMO-SE*UALS and make babies with DIVERSE PEOPLES!
Posted by Hootie  on  Wed Apr 13, 2005  at  06:58 AM
Bravo! This has to be the most entertaining run of threads I've read in a long time. I'd have to say hoax as well, having only seen the arm video. It's the same type of arm they've been using to build Minis since Jesus killed all those Martians. Jesus drove a Mini. And his Mini transformed into that R50 robot and saved Mary Magdalene. It threw rocks at the Jews. I had tea with Jesus and the robot just yesterday. Delicious. The robot's tea corrupted his systems and he had to ask Optimus Prime for help. Jesus saves.
Posted by Random Guy  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  02:46 AM
I drive a Mini. I want my Mini to miraculously turn into a giant robot and save me from killing myself if I lose control and veer off of a road in Oxford. But if it transforms with me inside, won't that crush me? And, according to the robot's programming, wouldn't that go against his primary protocol? By causing the death of the one he was programmed to protect, would he then be forced to self-destruct? Is it a he? Holy crap. I need to hit this pipe again.
Posted by Me  on  Mon Apr 25, 2005  at  02:51 AM
I found this site to be very curious when I first ran across it. But it was obvious when I saw the 'car stopping' video that this was another viral marketing campaign, just like the Fallon agency's Lee jeans campaign a few years back (remember and

The movements of this robot are too fluid for todays technology. Look at Sony's Qrio and judge for yourself. This Mini is straight out of a Hollywood feature film. The flamefest you're having regarding the validity of this website is exactly what viral marketing is made for.
Posted by Jason  on  Sat May 07, 2005  at  09:20 AM
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