Robot Elephant

First mechanical elephant that moved and transported people. This invention was made in 1950 by Frank Stuart.


On July 28, 1950, Frank Stuart gave his first public outing of his man-made walking elephant, walking the roads of Essex with a load of children in its howdah. This robot “Jumbo” is the remarkable invention by Mr. Frank Stuart, a theatrical mask maker and scenic artist. About two years earlier, when watching donkeys on the sands at the seaside, the idea came to him, and it has materialised triumphantly.

He began by building a steel skeleton, the size of a full grown elephant, and mounted a 10 h.p. petrol engine within. This operates the feet by means of elaborate mechanism and the animal can attain a speed of 27 m.p.h. and has a special licence to use on roads. Over 9000 parts were used in its construction, and the cost exceeded £1200.

The entire mechanism is covered with a “hide” of 1/2 inch thick specially toughened paper [using a gas technique] , and the admirable modelling of the head and trunk (used as the exhaust pipe) and the convincing tusks can be seen in the accompanying photographs.

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