With a budget of just $600—a mere pittance compared to what robots like ATLAS cost to develop—students from the University of California’s Davis’ College of Engineering created a machine that’s capable of tying a shoe all by itself.
After mastering the skill when you’re five years old, you probably don’t give much thought to the intricate ballet of fingers and laces that’s performed every time you tie your shoes. But in reality, it’s a complicated process. What makes these engineering student’s machine even more impressive is that it’s powered by just two motors, and relies on a series of gears and moving rods to pick up and move a pair of shoelaces around.
The robot’s not exactly fast, and it’s doubtful anyone is going to want this contraption sitting by their front door just so they can avoid bending over to tie their shoes. But imagine what these students could engineer with a much larger budget—Nike might no longer run the monopoly on self-lacing sneakers .