It’s not every day that the internet bestows upon you a royal title, especially one as ludicrous as “The Queen of Shitty Robots”.
But that’s exactly what happened to Simone Giertz. The Swedish native who now lives in the US has a made a name for herself building less than competent robots and uploading her creations to her YouTube channel.
She’s created classics such as the Breakfast Machine that pours more milk on the floor than the cereal, a Chopping Machine that appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and a Popcorn Machine that she built with Adam Savage from Mythbusters.
We got to speak to Simone over email about her rise to fame and the robots she makes. Check it out.
htxt.africa You explained your journey to becoming a YouTube content creator in the video “A year ago since I built my first shitty robot”, reflecting on it now, would you change anything about it?
Simone Giertz No not really. I’m so happy with where I’m at I’d be scared to fiddle with the journey that took me here.
htxt.africa Do you have any kind of background in robotics or is this all a hobby?
SG All a hobby! Or now it’s my job. I need to find new hobbies.
htxt.africa Many people have crowned you “The Queen of Shitty Robots”. How do you feel about this moniker?
SG I think it’s great. I never thought I’d be the queen of anything, and being the Queen of Shitty Robots is way more fun than being royalty over some country. I mean, I haven’t had to cut a single ribbon so far.
htxt.africa You yourself refer to some of your creations as “shitty robots”, but are they truly bad if they accomplish their intended use of being funny, entertaining and interesting?
SG They might be good at making people laugh, but they still suck at being robots.
htxt.africa From comments we’ve read we can see that your work is a massive inspiration to other tinkerers. We even saw one commenter state that they sincerely hope their child could follow in your footsteps. How does it feel to be an inspiration to others and does this come with any added pressures?
SG It feels equal parts great and scary. I’ve become a lot more careful with what advice I give because people really listen to it. I never set out to become a role model and I’m still figuring it all out. I mean it’s not like somebody sends you a agreement you have to sign and a guide book on how to be a good role model. But hopefully people can pick and choose the parts they like and ignore the bad stuff.
htxt.africa You recently began working with Adam Savage who is also seen as an important public figure for popularising STEM. What was that like and were you worried you would put his eye out with your “Deal with it” robot?
SG I’ve been working with Adam for a couple of months now and he’s really an amazing mentor. Poking his eye out would have been less than optimal. Happy I didn’t.
htxt.africa YouTube has become a bastion for creative individuals but is fraught with problems such as false copyright strikes and stolen content. Have you ever had to deal with those problems and what do you think about the future of the platform if the management behind the site continue with their “hands off” approach to content control?
SG I’ve actually only had great experiences with YouTube so far and I think it’s amazing how much they support their creators. They’ve given me a contact person, one-on-one meetings with engineers and flown me out to a ton of different events. Compared that to Facebook for example, where I haven’t gotten to speak to a single real human. But I definitely think YouTube need to decide what type of platform they want to be, and right now they seem to be on the wrong track.
htxt.africa If you could pick one YouTube channel to do a collaboration video with, who would you choose?
SG Jenna Marbles. Love that girl. Or the guy who just sits and smiles for four hours. Just because. What.
htxt.africa Again, in the “A year ago since I built my first shitty robot” video you mention the massive amount of attention your work got from Reddit. When we interviewed Lauri Vuohensilta, the man behind the Hydraulic Press Channel, he had a similar story. What’s your relationship with the site like now, especially when your videos usually get a lot of love there.
SG Reddit has been so great to me and I owe a lot to the community there since that’s where it all started for me. But in some way it feels like being friends with a tiger. Currently Reddit is nice to me and then it’s fricking great. But if it changed its mind it could eat me alive.
htxt.africa Have you ever legitimately used the Comment Assistant™ to leave a comment?
SG I actually haven’t. I’ve become pretty good at imitating it though. It’s very simple: just randomly pound your fist on the keyboard and you’re there.
htxt.africa No good parent has a favourite, but which of your creations are you most proud of?
SG The Popcorn Helmet! I’d wear it every day if only my neck was strong enough.
htxt.africa Can we have a hint as to what your next robot will be?
SG I’d tell you but I’m not even sure myself. I have some ideas in the pipeline. Most of them are pretty fricking messy. It’ll be fun.
htxt.africa What’s your favourite shitty robot in popular fiction? Our vote is for the Terminator which never managed to kill Sarah Connor.
SG Not really a shitty robot but Baymax from Big Hero 6 made my heart swell.