Hotshot Few Thousand
I really hate to spoil the mystery surrounding Hotshot Few Thousand, a six-footer with a helmeted head and computer-animated eyes inside.
I hate to contradict the information the robot itself might declare when asked about its own origins. But the fact is, we’re talking about a robot that was built by human hands.
When asked where it or he—he does have a pneumatically controlled metal penis—is from and how he came to be, Hotshot will say something like, “I built myself from leftover space shuttle parts,” or, “Long ago, I dropped from the stars into Black Rock City,” or, “A suburb of Mars.”
This part metal, part smart-ass bot will invent many stories to tell you. He might even sink to criticizing/harassing you. All the while, he may be smoking a cigarette as he rolls around on soft rubber wheels, spraying unsuspecting onlookers with streams of water. Entertaining as they are, these antics led me to the robot’s creator, a Reno local, to gain some straightforward answers. His name is Chris Munz.
“It’s truly amazing how much women get turned on by him,” says Munz, a quiet, dark-haired man in his late twenties. “I don’t know. He’s tall, he’s got broad shoulders—I don’t know what it is about him.”
Maybe it’s that metal penis that can rise to the occasion if needed, but I didn’t ask.
Plastic tubes and metal bars surround a core consisting of a tank for compressed air and two arms with a clamp and a container for hands. There’s also a PC motherboard in the bot’s backpack that operates his complex motor skills. Hotshot sports two batteries and headlights, and his head moves by way of servos that allow for human-like movement.
Hotshot Few Thousand was created or “born” in 2004 and has since been to Burning Man, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, various parties and art shows here and in California, and he was even at the sending-off party celebrating the life of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. That event took place in Woody Creek, Colo. during Thompson’s funeral. Surrounded by the famous and the press, Hotshot had to evade questions that would ultimately lead the public back to the elusive Munz. Hotshot is to be seen as an autonomous being without human dependence. As the robot’s fame grows, Munz would prefer to fully slide into anonymity.
Who controls the robot?
“I do whatever the hell I want,” was Hotshot’s retort.
Munz says he’s interested in giving Hotshot a companion—a robotic dog named Hotdog.
“The dog will probably let two people ride him at a time,” says Munz. “He’s a big dog, and he’ll have a head that turns around, so he can talk and interact with his human cohorts. I had always wanted to create an interactive robot since I was a kid, and now that robot needs his own companion.”
Munz will be making many updates on Hotshot, such as more complex eye animations, more human-like arms and a serious upgrade to Hotshot’s onboard light show.
As for Hotshot Few Thousand himself, the robot said that since no one else knew how to do it right, he’d be writing art reviews for the Reno News & Review.