Animaris Percipiere: Walking Robotic Sculpture Stores Wind Energy

The Animaris Percipiere is a free roaming clockwork mechanism sculpture created by artist Theo Jansen. This sculpture, the most recent of his animari, will walk the main square of Linz, Austria in September as a part of the Ars Electronic Festival.


(From Animaris Percipiere)

Jansen is slowly working toward machines that will be capable of long-term autonomous motion, slowly roaming the beaches of the Netherlands.

"Animals are machines as well," said Jansen. "I was making animals with just the tubes because they were cheap but later on they turned out to be very helpful in making artificial life because they are very flexible and multifunctional as well. I see it now as a sort of protein -- in nature, everything is almost made of protein and you have various uses of protein; you can make nails, hair, skin and bones. There's a lot of variety in what you can do with just one material and this is what I try to do as well."

A seventh-generation "animal," the Jansen Animaris Percipiere contains lemonade bottles into which air is slowly pumped as the beast moves by wind power; this enables it to walk for several minutes after the breeze passes.

"They have a food source in the wind so they can store energy and use it later on," said Jansen. "The downside is that they might have to wait for days, for the wind hopper to move on and on and then be able to move for maybe five minutes. They are just like snakes. Snakes also lie in the sun for days digesting their food.
(From Evolution of Wind Creatures on Beach)

Although these clockwork animals are obviously very gentle beasts indeed, Theo Jansen's work is very reminiscent (in its whimsical style) of Jack Vance, who created the mechanical walking fort for a 1964 novel.

See the article on the previous generation - the Animaris Rhinoceros Transport; if you like clockwork, see the very cool Robot Crab: Crustacean Clockword Automata. I found the tip for this story in next month's dead tree version of Wired.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/22/2005)

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