Skip the dozer designs. Build a giant hydraulic hand and use a glove. Add another set on the other side. Put on some DARPA legs and wala. You could pick up things like buckets and hammers with the hands. Add two gatling cannons, alot of kevlar, and two shoulder mounted packs of metal storm.
I had this idea a long time ago and would really like to pursue it, if only
I could find some others with experience in this and willing to try making it a
You can rent small backhoes and similar construction/yard equipment, but
since they mostly use lever-actuated hydraulics they're quite difficult to
use. (I used to drive a bulldozer on my family's farm in New jersey as a
kid). The leaning curve is pretty high, and when you're paying big bucks to
rent these things you don't want to be spending most of your time figuring out
how to use them.
There are also toy versions of backhoes and other such equipment.
So, here's my idea: You configure the toy with a set of digital encoders so
that an associated microprocessor (arduino, propeller?) can know the precise
position of every part of it. You put similar encoders on the actual
backhoe and attach electrically operated controllers to the various lever
controls on the backhoe. You write suitable transformation software that
translates the toy's position information into actuator control signals.
You then grab hold of the bucket part of the toy backhoe and move it. The
ACTUAL backhoe then makes corresponding movements. So, you don't sit on the
backhoe, trying to figure out what levers to move to accomplish whatever you're
trying to do, you just move the toy's bucket and the real backhoe follows suit.
Easy as pie. You probably don't even need force feedback on the toy, since
you're watching what happens on the real backhoe. And, you can even be at a safe
distance so you're out of any danger when operating it.
This should work for these small rental equipment versions as well as full
I could see putting together a demo project and then approaching an actual
equipment manufacturer, offering to form a partnership to provide the control
mechanisms for their existing equipment. Surely the first company to make this
available would have a huge market advantage over the competition.