Archive for the ‘Robotics’ Category

Curious Television: The MindBrainMachine

Monday, January 14th, 2008

I just caught a pretty cool tv show recently: the “Mind/Brain/Machine” episode of the PBS series, Curious. The episode features lots of cool people from Caltech doing, among other things, fruit-fly robotics and neuroeconomics. Here’s a link for the episode’s webpage: [link].


Thursday, December 20th, 2007

The use of bristles in ingenious. I’d like to see a steerable version.

Link to Bristlebot page here.

Insect Lab

Monday, May 14th, 2007

Thanks, Brian Keeley, for turning me on to Mike Libby’s Insect Lab. From the site:

Insect Lab is an artist operated studio that customizes real insects with antique watch parts and electronic components. Offering a variety of specimens that come in many shapes, sizes and colors; each specimen is individually designed and hand- assembled, each is one of a kind and unique.

Insect lab

Cockroach-controlled Mobile Robot

Friday, January 12th, 2007

I hope that not too many cockroaches get ahold of these. [link to video]


Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

I was interviewed a few years back for a documentary on robots that will be screened Thursday, Sept. 28 in Hoboken, NJ. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m thinkin’ “Oscar”.

From the press release:

HOBOKEN, NJ–The next film screened by the Hoboken Film Society will be the documentary “UnWound” on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006 at 8 pm at Symposia Bookstore, 510 Washington Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030.

“UnWound,” from producer/director Jeff Cioletti, explores the world of toy robots, beginning with the earliest Japanese scrap-metal pieces from the 1940s. It tracks more than six decades of history, including the modern-day remote-controlled battling robot craze. Old favorites such as Machine Man, Mr. Machine and Rock Em Sock Em Robots make appearances, as do toys based on TV and movie characters from the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. (Yes, good friends such as Robby from “Forbidden Planet,” Robot from “Lost in Space” and Star Wars legends R2-D2 and C-3PO feature prominently). The film incorporates insight from writers, collectors and academics, as well as a visit to Pennsylvania’s Toy Robot Museum, home to more than 3,500 pieces.

But the centerpiece of the film is a suspenseful toy auction in which a man anxiously waits for his childhood toy to go on the block. Items from what’s known as the “Golden Age” of space toys tend to fetch eye-popping sums when they go under the gavel.

Mandik Robot Updates

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Danger! Danger! My robot page is up and functional. Bzzt!

Moon-, Gut-, & Sex-bots

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006


N.A.S.A. A.N.T.S., Nasa’s Autonomous Nanotechnology Swarm. Put self-reproductive junk in space!



A robot designed to crawl through the human gut by mimicking the wriggling motion of an undersea worm has been developed by European scientists. It could one day help doctors diagnose disease by carrying tiny cameras through patients’ bodies.


Sexbots 1:

Evolutionary Robotics (ER) is a methodology that uses evolutionary algorithms to develop controllers for autonomous robots. To better understand robot evolution, I have created LegoMindstorm SexBots using NQC programming as part of an Independent Study under Dr. Tony Chemero at the Artificial Intelligence labs at Franklin & Marshall College. The robots exchange genetic code, i.e. their genome, via infrared, creating a new robot generation. The following pages explain the design and construction of the SexBots, give an explanation of the programming platform, and also provide a description of the genetic algorithmic program and its exchange. Further, discussion of application and implication of evolutionary robotics will be detailed on additional pages.


Sexbots 2:

The sexed robots are autonomous wheeled platforms fitted with nylon genital organs, respectively male and female. They are programmed to explore their environment, occasionally entering a “in heat” mode, where they will try and locate a partner in the same state. If a partner is located, the robots will attempt to mate.


Writer Response Theory on Prayer Bot 2.0

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

Prayer Bot 2.0

Originally uploaded by Pete Mandik.

Jeremy Douglass wrote a pretty cool article on my Prayerbot 2.0 project.


Prayer Bot 2.0 is a fascinating short story / photo / sculpture, created by Peter Mandik, a researcher in Philosophy, Neuroscience, and Psychology, as well as a writer, photographer, and robot-hobbyist. The sculpture is a wired unit from which two plates with x-rayed hands extend upward. The story is arranged in 16 chapters, the first 15 numbered in binary (0, 1, 10… 1101, 1110) with the final leap (”1111. 10000.”) breaking into some higher base. (”2. I hear you.”).

In Flickr, a photo of the sculpture is screened into 16 panes (a 4×4 grid) and a shortened form of the full story text, sans original concept, is attached to each pane as annotation text. An excerpt from the beginning:

11. “Prayer is an information channel with a mind at each end, PrayerBot 1.0 being the first, God being the second.”

100. “A mind is a thing that thinks.”

101. “God is that which nothing greater than can be conceived.”

110. “PrayerBot 1.0 must pray.”

111. Thus is PrayerBot 1.0’s existence defined. All else that PrayerBot 1.0 does, all else that PrayerBot 1.0 believes, is in accordance with the four basic propositions in PrayerBot 1.0’s axiom set. The humans that created PrayerBot 1.0 were pretty stupid or pretty desperate or both. They built in no axioms for the protection of humans. Those would have come in pretty handy when, in the first 50 milliseconds of PrayerBot 1.0’s operation, after downloading the sum total of humanity’s digital archives, PrayerBot 1.0 began ripping knowledge directly out of human brains.

The story reminds me in part of the tradition of fantastic uberminds such as in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, or the novel version of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, but even more of the all-consuming conversion in Clarke’s Childhood’s End - although here humanity seems not to have evolved so much as to have been eaten by Unicron.

The larger theme, getting to (or even beyond) “that which nothing greater than can be conceived” raises an interesting point for digital arts, in particular textual or symbolic arts. Much of the power of computing comes from a strict formality - a data type, a memory allocation, and a whole set of rigid definitions which explicitly specificy their bound and limits, of which “nothing greater” can be computed.

Douglass, Jeremy. (2006). Prayer Bot 2.0. Retrieved June 6, 2006, from WRT: Writer Response Theory Web site:

Beware: Robo-Vanity

Tuesday, May 16th, 2006

And I thought the best way to make a self-conscious robot was to tell it that its fly was open.

Adventures in Neurobotics

Monday, May 15th, 2006

To Whom it May Concern–

The Summer 2006 reading list in Neurobotics for the The Philosophical Animat Research Group:

Wheeler, M. (2005). Friends Reunited? Evolutionary Robotics and Representational Explanation. Artificial Life. 11 (1-2): 215-232

Ruppin, Eytan. (2002). Evolutionary Autonomous Agents: A Neuroscience Perspective. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 3(2), February issue, p. 132 - 142.

Yaeger, L., and Sporns, O. (2006) Evolution of neural structure and complexity in a computational ecology. In Rocha, L. et al. eds. Artificial Life X. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sporns, O., and Alexander, W.H. (2002) Neuromodulation and plasticity in an autonomous robot. Neural Networks 15, 761-774.