SHiFT: Robotic Art

by Luke Wroblewski September 27, 2006

Leonel Moura's presentation at SHiFT 2006 described his work making Robotic Art. Though he programs robots, Moura was quick to point out that though most people think of programming as a means of control, his art is more focused on enabling autonomy.

Moura outlined a few examples of where "self-organization via simple systems" can lead to complex construction. The pheromone trails of ants (which get stronger the more ants follow the same path) enable elaborate anthills to form. Human navigation experimentation leads to natural forming paths and bottom up urban construction creates living areas where most people prefer to dwell.

Based on these principles, Moura builds "machines that decide what to do for themselves". Examples of his work can be found on his site. Including the RAP (robotic action planner) system that determines when its paintings are done and signs its name.

Moura's requirements for true robot autonomy:

  • Independent Body
  • Accumulate Energy by own means
  • Gather information directly from the environment
  • Avoid situations that can be harmful
  • Repair itself
  • Learn from experience