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Ex-NASA Engineer Builds Glitter Fart Camera Trap for Package Thieves


Wildlife photographers sometimes set up camera traps to capture images of elusive animals. Former NASA engineer Mark Rober recently spent months creating a glitter-bomb fart-spray camera trap to capture images of elusive package thieves. As the 11-minute video above shows, the results were glorious.

Rober, who worked for NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for 9 years and whose work is currently being driven around by the Curiosity rover on Mars, says he was inspired to do something after a couple was caught on his security camera stealing a package from his doorstep.

He then spent half a year designing, building, and testing a special bait box to catch these thieves in the act.

What he ended up creating was a box that, from the outside, looks like an Apple Home Pod. But once opened, it disperses a large payload of glitter into the area, pumps nasty-smelling fart spray, and starts capturing 360-degree video using four smartphone cameras.

The four smartphone camera setup inside the camera trap.
Rober testing the 360-degree view captured by the four cameras.

The LTE-enabled smartphones automatically beam the footage for storage in the cloud, ensuring that Rober will always recover the video, and GPS built into the camera trap allows Rober to track down and recover the box for reuse — it’s inevitably discarded by thieves after the fart spray hits their nose.

A security camera still frame of one of the thieves stealing the camera trap bait package.
The camera trap capturing one of the thieves getting blasted by fart spray.

Rober’s efforts have paid off big time: his video has already been viewed over 9 million times less than a day after being published, and it’s the #1 trending video across all of YouTube.

“This might be my Magnum Opus,” Rober writes in the video’s description.

Update on 12/21/18: It has come to light that certain parts of this video were staged (Rober says it was without his knowledge).