Wind-powered robot sculptures

You might think that creating a new form of life would involve test tubes and incubators, or at least some kind of super computer. Not so, according to Dutchman Theo Jansen. He has spent the past 16 years creating one by hand in his workshop, mainly using plastic pipes.

Dubbed ‘Strandbeests’, Jansen’s amazing kinetic sculptures harness the wind to enable them to walk seemingly of their own accord. But that’s merely in their most primitive form. Jansen claims they are evolving into creatures that will one day be able to ‘survive’ on their own on Holland’s beaches.

Some of his most advanced creations can already ‘breathe’, storing the wind under pressure in plastic bottles and using it to power extensible limbs. They can also avoid drowning using basic water sensors (also made of plastic tubes), and – this is absolutely amazing! – count the number of steps they’ve walked using an 8-bit ‘brain’, consisting of valves made of… plastic pipes.

If you don’t believe this, watch Theo Jansen himself demonstrate on TED.

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