“25 Most Beastly Robotic Animals”

Uncategorized — Tags: , — joel_simon @ 6:59 pm

www.networkworld.com/slideshow/88419/25-most-beastly-robotic-animals.html#slide1

I believe each of these 25 robots here deserves its own post, put together it is a lot of very interesting projects all of which I suggest looking at. Some are rather bizarre (robotic tail with claimed emotion tracking) or a wailing monkey bot. Even the ones that don’t really work are still interesting for their failings. Some work better for their function while other their forms.

Theo Jansen Beach Robots

The tortoises mentioned in The Cybernetic Brain by Pickering were an attempt, by man, to create new forms of animals via robotics. Many anthropomorphic traits were projected upon them like dancing in front of mirrors and relationships with other bots. This reminded me strongly of the work of the Dutch artist Theo Jansen and probably served as some form of inspiration. Most of you are probably already very familiar with his beach crawlers, but the relationship between them as well as other forms of robotics I find worth comparing. I should note that these are robots are they have input, output and very basic computing done with pressurized bottles.
I choose this video specifically because of Jansen’s explicit reference to the ‘life’ of his creations. The video is even entitled “Presenting Strandbeest: Making New Life.” Jansen loves the idea of his creations not as sculpture but as animals who really inhabit the local beach. He has given ‘the animals’ tools to feel the water, harness energy from the wind and anchor into the sand for for protection. I believe that this attempt to mimic life is analogous to what is done on the ai side to mimic intelligence. Interestingly there is no turing test for animal robots (that I am aware of), perhaps there should be! Certainly regeneration, reproduction and evolution would be on there. Abilties these robots obviously do not have. What I have not seen is the ability for these creatures to actually survive outside own their own for extended periods of time. These creations are undoubtably eloquent and technically marvelous; however, I feel that his obsession with giving the creatures gimmicks that seem to replicate real animals is not doing as much for them.

An interesting dimension for the pieces could be to, in some way, expose how we want to think they are real and how we want to believe they are alive. Much like in our household pets we project and wish into existence many positive traits and abilities that aren’t actually there. If many of these traits are projected and people have pets the intelligence of some robots (turtles, fish, etc) then it may not be long until we have more serious robotic pets.

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