The German company, Festo, has a history of making incredible, biomimetic robots in their laboratories. We have featured kangaroos, dragonflies, and jellyfish in the past. They’ve also made Air-Penguins, Air-Ray, robotic birds, and the Airacuda. The butterfly may seem less ambitious than those efforts, but the butterflies can swarm in the air while avoiding collisions.
Each butterfly weighs a little over an ounce and has a wingspan of 20 inches. They consist of nothing more than a couple of motors, batteries, infrared markers, and soft, elastic wings.
The robots were not developed to sell but represent continued research efforts towards making ultralight, networked robotics systems. I think the company should focus on these creations and move them to market. I want one!
“Change is Everything” is a new song by the band, Son Lux. The video was conceived and produced by Nathan Johnson and the folks at The Made Shop. Via NPR:
“The first day we knocked out 535 frames (out of roughly 4,000). By day three, the pads of my fingers were so raw that it hurt to move a pin. I didn’t know how I’d be able to keep going, but my wife, Katie found some rubber finger tips at Staples that helped dull the pain (though it also decreased our precision). We also didn’t realize that the surface of the foam core board would be blown out by day four. We got to the point where the board was so pockmarked that the pins would randomly shoot out and fly across the studio every couple frames. After that, we stocked up on a few more boards and started wearing safety goggles.”
“I’ve always been attracted to art that uses very simple materials in its execution,” says Johnson. “I love the ‘lots of something little’ approach. I guess, partly, because it means that you can use everyday materials that everybody has access to, which feels really accomplishable. I love the idea of seeing something ordinary and mundane transformed into something beautiful and lifelike; and it feels extra empowering to know that the price of admission is only the amount of time and energy you’ve got to spend.”
But it does take a fair amount of time and energy…
The whole video took about a week of prep work and then 2 solid weeks of the tedious frame-by-frame shooting that is stop-motion animation. I’d say it was all worth it!
Julie Alice Chappell, hailing from Portsmouth, UK, creates these intricate insect sculptures from re-purposed computers and video game machines. The parts often come from local dumps, many friends, and organizations that support her work.
Via the artist:
“Whilst watching a nature programme about bio-diversity, one eye on the box of circuit boards, one on the TV, and worrying about my looming major project, I was reminded of the ants in the cupboard and my Eureka moment arrived.
I proceeded to create a museum style entomologist’s cabinet of dioramas, drawers and trays filled with pinned bugs and butterflies. The collection has continued to grow in size and complexity and is constantly evolving as new inspiration is triggered by new finds.”
If you are interested, she sells her work online via Etsy (usually ranging between $100 and $200).
Light Kinetics is an interactive installation by Espadaysantacruz, a Madrid-based, creative studio. In the artwork, the 1st light bulb is connected to a piezoelectric sensor, which transfers force from the tap into a change in the electrical charge sent to the rest of the circuit.
The change in electrical charge then runs a physics simulator which controls the rest of the light bulbs in the circuit, leading to a roller coaster of light seen in the video above.
The project is a continuation of a previous simulation shown here:
It’s a interesting concept.. I’m excited to see what they try next.
“The Clock” is the culmination of a 3-year project by Gislain Benoit. It’s made up of 1,916 hand-soldered components and weighs about 14 lbs. Of course, the end result is something that can be accomplished by a $10 digital watch found at your local convenient store, but the beauty is in the details. The clock looks like it could be some sort of mini hadron collider.
How it Works:
“The clock reference, in other words the heart beat of this clock comes from the AC outlet. Here in North America, the outlets supply 120 Volts, in 60 cycles per second, called 60 Hertz. This 60 Hertz signal is taken by the clock and is divided by sixty to produce a pulse of 1 hertz, which is one pulse per second. The same circuit which does this division is also used to animate the ring of LED lights around the clock digits. The 1 Hertz pulse is then taken to the seconds counter, then to the tens of seconds counter, then to the minutes, and so on, till the tens of the hours.”
Boston Dynamics, previously featured here, is a Google-owned robotics company that just released a new design — Spot, the Robot Dog.
From Boston Dynamics:
“Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs.”
I actually started to feel some empathy for Spot when he was being kicked by the engineer. It responded in such an organic way… rapidly gaining its balance and then pausing for a moment to digest the assault.
The applications for these machines are seemingly endless. They can carry supplies into dangerous environments (i.e. helping soldiers move equipment), assist the disabled with chores, or simply be a man’s new robot best friend. Exciting times ahead…