Carl Friedrich Gauss was, to put it mildly, a polymath responsible for a large percentage of the things we take for granted in the modern world. As a physicist and mathematician, he pioneered various fields, including magnetism. But since he died decades before the first car was built, it’s unlikely he could have imagined this creation, a magnetic slot-car race track called the Gauss Speedway by [Jeff McBride]which bears the name of the famous scientist.
The Gauss Speedway is inspired by a recent development in robotics where many small robots can travel across a large area using circuit tracks integrated into their work area. With the right current on these tracks, magnetic fields are generated that propel the robots. [Jeff] wanted to build something similar, integrated directly into a printed circuit board, and came up with the idea of a slot car. The small cars have small magnets that interact with the tracks in the circuit board, allowing the cars to move around the track with high precision. It’s abandoned the traditional slot car controller in favor of a push-button style right on the logic board, meaning everything is fully integrated.
While this was more of a demonstration or proof-of-concept, some features of this robot style can be seen in this video, which shows them moving extremely fast and with high precision, on uneven surfaces or even up walls. Magnetic robots like this are experiencing quite a renaissance, and we’ve even seen some that use magnetism to change shape.