homeaboutarchives + tagsshopmembership!
aboutarchivesshopmembership!
aboutarchivesmembers!

kottke.org posts about Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen’s New Wind-Powered “Strandbeest” Is Super Fast

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2018

Earlier this summer, Theo Jansen released an improved iteration of his strandbeests, wind-powered machines that walk along the beach. The newest version doesn’t have any joints, so it doesn’t need lubrication or protection from the sand to keep it from moving. As a result, it zips along at a pretty good clip down the beach. I first ran across Jansen’s work at a conference more than a decade ago.

It’s hard to know where to begin in talking about what’s so cool about Jansen’s beach animals. They’re evolved for one thing; he worked out the optimal 11-piece leg using evolutionary algorithms on a computer but now prefers to race his animals on the beach and “breed” the most successful ones together, taking the best bits from each to make their offspring better. His animals have legs, muscles (pneumatic pistons within the plastic tubing), stomachs (plastic bottles for storing air), and nerves (collections of on/off values that work pretty much like logic gates).

The kids have one of these built-your-own mini-strandbeests and it’s really neat to see how it all works up close.