Tonight, MythBusters guru Grant Imahara will unveil the “robot skeleton sidekick” named Geoff Peterson on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. It started out as a series of jokes. Ferguson began calling his Twitter followers his “robot skeleton army.” Imahara tweeted to Ferguson that, if the late-night host could get Imahara’s Twitter-follower number to exceed 100,000, he’d build Craig a robot sidekick.
Ferguson, an avid fan of MythBusters (“We meet a lot of people who say they’re fans,” says Imahara, “but Craig can talk about any specific episode you name”), quickly promoted Imahara’s Twitter feed, goosing the latter’s numbers up over 120,000. “Now I wish I’d asked for a higher number,” jokes Imahara.
Working on weekends and in his spare time, Imahara has created a “plastic skeleton with aluminum bones and torso,” he says. It has a movable head, jaw, and arm.
“The robot actually shares a lot with R2D2 and the Energizer Bunny,” says Imahara, both of which he’s worked on. “Craig wanted it to look cheesy, in keeping with the jokes he makes about how cheap his show looks. For me, that meant doing some old-school animatronics.”
Ferguson has recorded a series of responses the robot can emit. “In auto-mode setting, Craig can sit at his desk with a black box and hit any of seven red buttons for these pre-recorded responses,” says Imahara. (Ferguson himself describes the voice he uses for Geoff Peterson to be “a bit of a Michael Caine accent.”)
“In manual mode, there’s radio-control movement,” says Imahara. Geoff can be put “on a stand… and by remote-control, Craig can move [the robot's] head, jaw, and arm.”
Imahara was impressed by Ferguson’s interest in the project. “I thought I’d just be dealing with his producers, but Craig has called numerous times. He’s very into the design of it. They have big plans for Geoff Peterson. Craig and the writers think they may want to send Geoff out into the world, interview people — things like that.”
“Craig jokes about warning not to put in ‘the emoticon chip,’” says Imahara. “It’s his way of referencing artificial intelligence.”
“This started out as just a puppet,” says Imahara. “Obviously it’s gotten much bigger and more complex than that… I don’t think Craig’s Robot Skeleton Army of followers is going to be disappointed.”
Will you be watching?