Nothing to fear for this engineer

30.04.2022  — 

He had it all in his head much earlier than anyone else. He developed a solar-powered car as early as 1960, and endless other solutions to problems of all kinds: self-emptying garbage cans. The dark bulb that turns daylight rooms into dark night. Chewing gum trees. And, of course, the indispensable steam back scratcher. Now, Gyro Gearloose, a passionate engineer and inventor, is turning 70.

Gyro Gearloose
Creative mind: Gyro Gearloose © 2022 Egmont Ehapa Media / Disney

Created by the ingenious Disney cartoonist Carl Barks, Gyro Gearloose made his first appearance in a short comic strip published in the United States on May 1, 1952, seventy years ago.

At that time, he was still clumsily – and unsuccessfully – trying to turn whipped cream into butter by hopping on a stilt, but the clever rooster quickly grew from a ridiculed crank to a sought-after creative in Duckburg.

Gyro Gearloose helped wherever he was needed. Whether the richest duck in the world, Scrooge McDuck, needed to protect his fortune against the tricky safecrackers, or Phantomias, Donald Duck’s superhero alter ego, needed a miracle weapon to fight evil – Gyro Gearloose provided solutions.

Daniel Düsentrieb fliegt im Schwebomobil
Innovative mobility solutions © 2022 Egmont Ehapa Media / Disney

At the same time, he was always working on alternative propulsion systems, far ahead of his time, such as the running bike, the partly automated hovercraft and the rocket car – which consumed half a firecracker per kilometer.

His most financially successful invention was the one-wheel car, while the further development, the flying air scooter, remained a shelf warmer.

But it was never about money, as the online encyclopedia Wikipedia knows: “Gyro Gearloose makes his inventions for the joy of work rather than for financial interest and fits the cliché of the garage inventor”, reads the German article.

He took setbacks, of which there were many – the rocket car, for example, could not be steered and ended up in a tree – as a challenge, true to his motto: “Nothing to fear for an engineer”.

At the same time, Gyro Gearloose also knows his limits and seeks help: with his thinking cap and, since 1956, with his partner Little Helper, an early example of artificial intelligence in the form of an eleven centimeter small robot with a light bulb head (enclosed with the current Mickey Mouse magazine in Germany as a plastic figure; the head even lights up).

Nebenbei tüftelte er immer wieder, seiner Zeit weit voraus, an alternativen Antrieben wie dem Lauffahrrad, dem teilautonom fahrenden Schwebomobil oder dem Raketenauto – Verbrauch: ein halber Feuerwerkskörper pro Kilometer. Seine finanziell erfolgreichste Erfindung war der Einradroller, den er für fünf Millionen Taler an die Duckschen Automobilwerke verkaufte. Die Weiterentwicklung, der fliegende Luftroller, blieb dagegen ein Ladenhüter. Aber ums Geld ging es auch nie, wie das Internet-Lexikon Wikipedia weiß: „Daniel Düsentrieb macht seine Erfindungen aus Freude an der Arbeit statt aus finanziellem Interesse und passt in das Klischee des Garagenerfinders.“ Rückschläge, von denen es etliche gab – das Raketenauto etwa ließ sich nicht steuern und endete in einem Baum –, nahm er dabei als Herausforderung, getreu seinem Leitspruch: „Dem Ingeniör ist nichts zu schwör“ (auf Englisch: „Nothing to fear for an engineer“, unsterblich übersetzt von der kongenialen Erika Fuchs, mit Anleihe beim Berliner Ingenieur und Schriftsteller Heinrich Seidel). Dabei kennt Daniel Düsentrieb auch seine Grenzen und sucht sich Hilfe: mit seiner Denkkappe und, seit 1956, mit seinem Partner Helferlein, einer Frühform künstlicher Intelligenz in Form eines elf Zentimeter kleinen Roboters mit Glühbirnenkopf (dem aktuellen Micky-Maus-Magazin als Plastikfigur beigelegt; der Kopf leuchtet sogar).
Friend, companion, partner: Little Helper © 2022 Egmont Ehapa Media / Disney

All this – a passion for mobility, technology and innovation – makes Daniel Düsentrieb the prototype engineer. And a role model for us at Berlin-based engineering company IAV. Founded as a spin-off from the Technical University, we are now about half the age of our idol and are following in his footsteps in seeking solutions to the problems of tomorrow: like him, we are developing alternative drive systems, autonomous cars, robots and artificial intelligence.

Let’s see if anyone will ever say about us, when we turn seventy, that we had it all in our heads much earlier than anyone else. That would be nice. At any rate, we‘re working on it.

And until then, happy birthday, Gyro Gearloose!

mmm 202Das Heft zum 70. Geburtstag von Daniel Düsentrieb2 09 cover ©egmontehapamedia disney 2 scaled 1
The German birthday magazine for Gyro Gearloose © 2022 Egmont Ehapa Media / Disney

To celebrate Gyro Gearloose‘s birthday, the German publishers have launched an inventor competition.