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Skippy: Sun Valley’s Stone-Skipping Robot

Eleven Inc.

Web surfers from anywhere in the world can remotely skip a stone across a Sun Valley lake this week.  A robot controlled through a person’s computer keyboard and the Internet makes this possible. 

Skippy stands about three feet tall and two feet wide along the shore of a private, mountain lake near the Sun Valley resort. 

Daniel Murphy directs Interactive Production at ad agency, Eleven Inc.  The San Francisco firm designed, engineered, and built the robot. 

"He has a little personality. We’ve designed kind of a robotic head and face to him with blinking eyeballs and such," says Murphy.  "It sits on a kind of chassis on wheels because we have to move him to a remote site.  And it’s run, since we’re in the middle of nowhere, on a car battery." 

Murphy says Skippy started life as a clay pigeon throwing machine for skeet shooters.  The heavily-modified robot now contains equipment for internet access via satellite. 

Anyone can control Skippy from a computer keyboard.  The user sets the angle of the throw and the power of the stone toss.   

Sun Valley Resort and Visit Sun Valley sponsored the robot as part of their “Skip Town” promotion. 

Skippy starts skipping stones Monday and runs through Saturday. 

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio