Ever since he first rolled into our lives back in 2008, we've loved WALL-E, the lovable trash compactor robot at the heart of the Pixar film of the same name. He's cute, he's loving, he's brave, and he's just plain neat. Too bad he's only a cartoon, right? Well, not anymore.
Mike Senna, a California robotics enthusiast, was best known up until a little while ago for building a life-sized, working R2-D2. It started out as a hobby, then became something more when Mike began taking R2 to events for City of Hope, a pediatric cancer charity. After a while, it became apparent that it would be even more fun if he built a character with "more emotion," and Senna began work on WALL-E.
As tough as building R2 must have been, building WALL-E was tougher. After all, someone's already built an R2-D2, but until now WALL-E only existed in a computer. There were no schematics, no pre-existing parts, nothing. Senna had to watch the movie over and over again to get all the movements right, develop the robotic elements himself, and then put it all together. He spent at least 25 hours a week working on it (he also has a job), and estimates that it probably took anywhere between 3,200 and 3,800 hours to finish the project. Oh, and he paid for all of it himself.
His reward? The look on kids' faces when he shows them a real working WALL-E that can wave, look at them and even say his name. Check out the video to see the heart-melting interactions between the robot and children, and marvel at the ridiculous level of detail Senna put into this little guy. For even more fun and photos, you can also visit Senna's blog.