Pharaoh Cuttlefish

An ancient Egyptian civilization, somehow buried underwater. A broken ritual. A gigantic pharaoh cuttlefish sits on top of it all.

Our primary inquiry: can we use the medium of a suitcase robot to tell an interactive story?

Our aim is to turn our suitcase into a form of puzzle box, where the user will be prompted to complete the broken ritual by solving a sequence of short challenge that involve interacting with components in the box.

Our current imagined sequence is the following:

  1. The user pushes a button on the capstone of the pyramid. This causes the entrance of the pyramid to unfold, revealing a laser pointer beaming out of it.
  2. The laser’s path is blocked by a tentacle, but the user can rotate various buildings with mirrors to maneuver the laser into a receptacle at the end of the pyramid. Success is determined either by potentiometers on each of the buildings, or a photorecepter on the goal.
  3. One arm of the cuttle fish retracts to reveal a sphinx, turned at the wrong angle. The user needs to rotate the sphinx into position. A potentiometer on the base of the sphinx measures their success.
  4. The arms of the cuttlefish retract to reveal displaced pillars. The user has to position them correctly to complete the ritual.
  5. The ritual is completed, and Egypt is restored. This will likely be indicated by a change from blue lighting to yellow.

Our primary challenge is to achieve the degree of fidelity needed for this to be a functioning puzzle box that withstand user interaction and reset itself to be again. A particularly obvious example is with the arms of the cuttlefish. We currently plan to use DC motors attached to string to retract the arms, but we expect this to be challenging, and it remains to be seen whether it will be possible to re-extend the arms into the correct position when the puzzle box resets.

Our first goal will be to build the most critical mechanism for the suitcase operation—the retractable and extendable arms of the cuttlefish.

We also have not determined what the form of the suitcase should be to best complement our design. One idea we have considered is to build a box from translucent blue acrylic to further sell the idea that the civilization is underwater.

Alternatively, we may build a box stylized around those found in Egyptian tombs.

Cosmetic Box from the tomb of Sennedjem | New Kingdom, Ramesside | The  Metropolitan Museum of Art