PVC Beasts That Walk on Their Own


Theo Jansen is an artist (technically, a sculptor) who creates strandbeests -- PVC sculptures that operate like simple robots. The strandbeests can walk using wind power, some can dig themselves into the ground when the wind gets too strong, and some can even detect when they touch obstacles or water. Jansen builds them and sets them loose on beaches in Holland, to see how they interact with the environment. His eventual goal is for the strandbeests to become self-sufficient, surviving on their own without his help. While that seems like a fanciful goal, these machines are pretty amazing -- particularly given the relatively low-tech approach to their creation. Have a look at this short BBC video showing some of them:

Jansen also gave a TED Talk in 2007 about his strandbeests:

There are more videos on Jansen's website. Apparently he's also bringing them to Amsterdam and Japan later this year.