Archive for January, 2010

1976 – “Buster” Robot Animal – David L. Heisermann (American)

Although built using a child's electric car as the chassis, the fully functional Buster was a true Cybernetic Animal, showing reflexes, phototropism, and hunger / recharging modes. He could operate totally autonomously if so desired, but had manual overides via a remote panel or remote control via an acoustic adapter.

No CPU chips here. Op-amps, TTL digital logic gates, comparators and 555-type timers.


This one-of-a-kind book offers complete instructions-plans, schematics, logic circuits,
and wiring diagrams-for building Buster, the most lovable (and mischievous) mechanical pet in the world! He'll serve you coffee or bring you the morning papers.
He'll forage for his own "food" and scream when he can't find it. His "curiosity" will get him into one plight after another, but Buster has the capacity to get himself out of trouble just as easily as he got into it! Not a project for novices, Buster is a sophisticated experiment in cybernetics. You build him in phases, and watch his personality develop as you add progressively more advanced circuitry to his mainframe. 238 pps., 117 illus.

Build Your Own Working Robot by David L. Heiserman


Buster is rather hard to describe in a few words. Part of the trouble with trying to describe Buster is that he ( or it) is two different things at the same time: he is both a machine and an evolutionary process. What's more, Buster is unique as a machine and quite unusual as a process.
As a machine, Buster represents the highest-order machine that technology can produce today. The lowest-order machine can be represented by simple hand tools such as hammers. screwdrivers, and pliers. The next order then takes the form of slightly more complicated labor-saving devices such as motors and engine-driven vehicles. Basic computer systems represent yet a higher order of machinery—machines that can save humans both mental and physical energy.
Buster is much more than any of these machines. He is much more than a tool, a man-controlled machine, or a computer system. Buster is a machine that is capable of setting its own goals and achieving them within the limitations of its own logical and physical abilities. And unlike any of the lower classes of machine, Buster can be fully operational without human intervention. Of course Buster can interact with a human operator, provided he doesn't have any other needs that are more urgent at the time. The completed Buster system can, in principle, live a long and active life in the total absence of human company. Lots of simpler machines can run without human intervention, too; but they cannot set their own goals.
One of the essential keys to Buster's unique position in the world of machines is his built-in animal-like reflex system. Every animal has a reflex system of some sort that mainly serves as a mechanism for survival or self-preservation; and most animal behavior is motivated by the needs of survival. Buster has a survival-oriented reflex system ; and whenever his energy cells become "hungry," for example. he takes action appropriate for recharging them.
Buster also has a need for activity. His primary goal in life. aside from keeping himself nourished, is to move about. He wanders around for hours on end. poking into corners and running headlong across the floor. If Buster's human doesn't take all the proper precautions, Buster can accidentally disable himself ; but as long as the accident isn't one that causes serious physical damage, Buster eventually gets himself out of the predicament or else begins crying for help.
Of what use is Buster? The question is not really appropriate. It's like asking what use is a puppy. Aside from the technical challenge of building such a system. Buster's real "use" lies in playing with him and watching him at work. Buster can be trained to do tricks and fetch a newspaper. but so can a puppy ( and for less money). The motivation for building such a system must come from the experimenter's own constitution—there must be a desire to work first-hand with the highest class of machine available today.
Buster is also a process. Unlike most other electronic projects. the system doesn't have to be complete before he comes alive. Buster evolves stepwise through this book. each step in the process adding more detail to his animal-like behavior.
This evolution-oriented program has the distinct advantage of letting you. the experimenter, reap some of the benefits of your time. labor. and cash outlay long before the program is completed. Once the basic mainframe, power supply. and power control systems are built. you can add whatever functions that time. finances, and moods dictate. And all the while, you'll have a machine that is fun and educational.
The Buster development program can be divided into three basic phases: Buster I, Buster II, and Buster III. Completing each one of these phases marks a major advance in Buster's modes of behavior; and for the sake of convenience, Buster is named according to his stage of development.
Buster I
Buster I is a wheeled machine that can be driven and steered by means of a simple control panel. Buster I can be run forward and in reverse at three different speeds. and turned left or right at two different steering angles. The control panel is connected to the machine via an umbilical cord. Although the machine is still run by a human operator, he can cause quite a stir among people who have never seen anything resembling a real robot. Besides. Buster I is fun to play with.
Buster II
The first half of the Buster II phase of the program  are concerned with developing Buster's autonomic reflex system and "brain" power. Buster has the capacity for making logical decisions of his own, but he has no way to implement his notions and needs in a physical way.
The first, and most important, reflex system is completed. Here, Buster II is given a set of touch sensors and a control system that lets him make an appropriate motion reflex whenever he blunders into a solid object. This blunder reflex mode takes priority over any other on-going activity, including direct commands from the human operator. Buster II is also given the ability to run ahead at full speed whenever he is not executing a blunder sequence. Buster, in other words, becomes an independent creature at this point in the program. Included is circuitry for sensing low battery levels and signaling the human operator whenever a low-battery condition arises. This is only the first portion of a complete hunger mode that will be completed as part of the Buster III phase. The hunger alarm board also doubles as a special blunder alarm that sounds whenever Buster becomes trapped between two immovable objects.
The umbilical cord is finally cut. You'll spend considerable time and effort working on an up-to-date acoustical data communications system that lets you communicate with Buster via remote control.
Buster III
The Buster III phase of the program opens with a discussion of a generalized tracking function. Whereas Buster II is characterized by some reflex responses and independent activity, the main point of the Buster III phase is to give him an active goal-seeking capability. The tracking interface system can be used wherever Buster is supposed to follow or track down a target object.
The hunger alarm system in Buster II merely sensed a low-battery condition and caused Buster to whistle for his master. With the tracking interface now available, Buster no longer has to call for help whenever his batteries begin running low—he simply seeks out his battery charger and plugs himself in.
Buster III is a truly independent creature. He can wander about for hours on end, blundering away from solid objects and running at full speed across the floor and when the batteries run critically low, he immediately tracks down the battery charger. Once the batteries are recharged, he backs out of his "nest" and resumes his feverish activity. You can take over control via the remote or direct terminals, but Buster III always retains his reflex capability that overrides just about anything his master tells him to do.
Anything added to the Buster II system from this point on is simply icing on the cake, e.g. a line-tracing function that lets Buster follow any sort of light-colored line on the floor and suggests some other tracking functions that can direct Buster to respond when he is called.
The final chapter introduces a proposed Buster IV system: one where a microprocessor brain is added to his basic reflex and goal-seeking modes of behavior. The Buster II system is upward-compatible with just about any sort of modern data system; given the appropriate kinds of sensors, Buster can become as much a mechanical animal as your talent, imagination, and resources allow.

[Note: RH 2010 – The final chapter on a proposed Buster IV with a microprocessor brain did not eventuate. The closest we get to is in the acoustic data link so "the whole Buster system can be placed under the control of a more sophisticated minicomputer or microprocessor system that is too bulky to be included in the mainframe assembly."]

See a transcript of a 2008 interview with David Heiserman here.

1975 – “The Moth” Cybernetic Model – Keul & Lohr (Dutch)

elektor june 75

M. Keul and H. Lohr

the moth

This is a design for a simple cybernetic model, based on an electric toy car, that will be attracted towards a light source like a moth, negotiating obstacles in its path.

The car has two motors, one to propel it and one for the steering mechanism.
The principle is quite simple. A light-sensitive element is mounted obliquely to the right at the front of the car.
Normally, the steering motor keeps the car on a left turn, but this motor can be reversed by a relay, so that the car turns to the right. This happens each time the light-sensitive elelent receives light.
If the car, travelling to the left, passes a light source, it swerves to the right in the direction of the light. However, it keeps turning to the right, so that after some time the element receives no more light. Then the car will automatically swerve to the left again until the element again receives light from the source, and so on. Thus the car zigzags towards the light source. It behaves more-or-less like a moth, hence the name of this apparatus. 

see full pdf here.

1975 – “Beetle” Cybernetic Model – (Dutch)

elektor june 75

Beetles, tortoises and the like have often served as models for cybernetic machines which must also have a reasonable appearance. The beetle described in this article can 'see, hear and feel' and reacts to information in the form of sounds and movements. The animal has a memory and can get tired. The beetle is the first of a series of articles on cybernetic models.

The behaviour of the beetle: action and reaction
In daylight (vertical light) the model moves slowly forward in a circle (counter-clockwise) with a diameter of approx. 80cm. If during its journey the beetle arrives in a place where there is less light (for instance in a dark corner or below aq chair), it rests in the shade for approx. half a minute to a full minute and then resumes its circulatory journey.
It is also possible that, instead of continuing the model decides to take a  prolonged rest in the shade: it 'falls asleep'. This condition of prolonged rest can only be altered by external stimuli. The object casting the shadow is removed or the model is wakened by a loud sound (clapping). If the beetle 'sees' a horizontal light source on its journey, it makes a beeline for it. Any deviations from its course are automatically corrected.

If the model hits an obstacle in its path, it gives a brief cry of fright and immediately shrinks back. This reverse movement is, however, preceded by a short turn, so that when the beetle resumes its forward movement after 3-4 seconds, it is positioned obliquely with respect to its previous direction of travel. Because the beetle can now no longer see the light source, it again starts a left turn, which results in a second collision with the obstacle, somewhat more to the left than the first time. Thus, after a few repititions, extensive obstacles are also dodged, after which the beetle heads for its goal (phototropism).
When the horizontal light source is reached, the model will collide with it and the above-mentioned swerving movements will follow. As a result, the model will find itself behind the light source. If this horizontal light source does not emit light backwards and there is also a shady area at the rear of the lamp, the model goes behind the lamp to enjoy a short or prolonged period of rest.
The model can also learn. If at the moment of collision a warning sound (clapping) is made, the model concludes that the collision (pain) and clapping belong together. For this reason, if a warning sound is made when the model is moving forwards, it will now first give a cry of fright and then perform the same swerving movement which would otherwise be performed in the case of an actual collision. [Rh 2010 – this is typically called a 'conditioned response'.]
The memory fades, however, during a rest in the shade. After such a pause the model hesitates briefly when the warning sound it made; it listens for a moment and immediately after the hand-clapping the  forward movement is resumed.
In general, this simple cybernetic model behaves in a typically animal-like way. It can move. hear, see, feel, it reacts efficiently to certain external interferences, acts purposefully and has also certain reflexes in addition to the senses of touch and hearing.
Things become even more interesting if two models are available, each with a light source on its back. If moreover the cry of fright of one beetle is tuned to the warning sound of the other, an exchange of experience may take place. The innumerable possibilities of searching, pursuing and swerving guarantee an interesting course of experiments.
As is indicated by dashed lines in the block diagram (figure 1) a 'hunger' sensation can be added. This part immediately interrupts a journey or a period of rest when the battery voltage dropsw below a certain minimum. The model then heads for a second lamp placed near a charging unit. If on the way to  the charging unit the beetle starts to use less current for some reason, it records that sufficient energy is still left to resume the normal search for the first lamp. For demonstration it is advisable to use a potentiometer as supply control; the beetle's hunger may then be artificially generated.

see full pdf here.

1969 – GE Walking Truck – Ralph Mosher (American)


The Times Record – 24 July 1962 p13

From as early as 1962, the General Electric Ordinance Dept. in Pittsfield, Mass., undertook a study for the US Army which may lead to the building of a manned walking machine, with arms and legs, ….. where tractors might get stuck.

The mechanism for which the Boston Ordinance District has awarded a study contract, would be called a "pedipulator." It would be designed for rough or muddy terrain and its 12-foot legs would hike at 35-mile speed.

The human operator, who would be coupled directly to the mechanism, would walk inside the big machine and the 12-foot legs would take the same steps. The arms of the machine would follow the movements of the operator's arms.

Two or three machines might be lined up like men carrying a stretcher, or a litter, and thus transport equipment or men. The body of the pedipulator would be big enough to hold, besides the operator, electronic circuits, servo units and power drives.

An important element is making the human operator comfortable during extended periods and this will involve human-factor research.

By mid 1965, impressed by the results of the 'pedipulator", the Department of Defense and the Army Tank and Automotive Center asked GE to turn-out a semi-amphibious four-legged, cargo-carrying CAM (Cybernetic Anthropomorphous Machine). It was unveiled to the public in April 1969.

I've just loaded up a compiled video clip sourced from some vintage material I have. See youtube here.

Wooden Mock-ups

Earlier concept drawings had the operator mounted forward, not middle.

The Walking Truck partially constructed.

Left-leg raised.

Towards the end, now being tested outdoors, the "truck" now sports stabilizing bars in case of a fall or loss of balance.  The rate and volume of hydraulic oil (50 gallons per minute) requires external hook-up.

Above image from US Army Museum site here.

The GE Walking Truck currently resides at the US Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis. (picture from flickr – author?).

The CAM legs as adapted to a tank.

Meccano model by Hugh Henry described by Tony Brown.

For a complete set of images see the NZ Meccano web site here.  Thanks Antonio Gual for encouraging  Tony Brown (the author of the Modelplan) who found some pictures of Hugh Henry's original.

Charlie Harper artwork.

See other GE CAMS here:

1956- GE Yes Man
1958-9- GE Handyman – Ralph Mosher
1962 – GE Pedipulator – Ralph Mosher
1965-71- GE Hardiman I
1969- GE Man-Mate Industrial manipulator

1958 – “Cosmos the Robot” – Christian Dupont (French)

"MOVE OVER, HUMAN – Even a hard-bitten Parisian driver would be likely to obey that command from the odd driver of this odd vehicle. No visitor from another world. It's a homegrown robot named "Cosmos" which, like the helicopter in the background, was on display at a science exhibit on the banks of the Seine. The French are said to be blase, but "Cosmos" attracted a lot of attention."

Below text and newspaper articles from here.

Quel personnage est Michel d'Escatha ? Une tranche de vie:


Le robot "Cosmos" de Michel d'ESCATHA

Commentaire imprimé au verso de la carte postale représentant le robot Cosmos:
Ce robot, construit par un ingénieur français, a demandé plus de 8.000 heures de travail.
Il parle, agit, se déplace absolument seul et obéit aux ordres qu’on lui donne.
Il a été primé hors Concours au Salon International de l’Invention de Monaco en 1960.

Mon robot fonctionnait avec une batterie d’automobile de 12 v qui actionnait 12 petits moteurs d’essuie-glaces commandés à volonté par radiocommande. Il se déplaçait en avant, en arrière, tournait à droite ou à gauche par une roue unique pivotante placée sous la soucoupe et qui tournait avec elle.

Remuaient à volonté: la tête, les bras, les épaules, les doigts de pied, le pouce de la main gauche. Quand il parlait, il ouvrait sa grande bouche synchronisée parfaitement avec chaque parole, et à chaque fois des lumières s’allumaient dans sa gorge et dans ses yeux. Toute la tête faisait un léger mouvement de va et vient quand il parlait, et les gens croyaient que c’était un enfant caché à l’intérieur qui l’actionnait. Je n’ai jamais vu jusqu’à ce jour un robot aussi sophistiqué.

Ma mère ne voulant pas que j’aille dans les fêtes foraines pour le faire marcher (j’avais fait une armature métallique pour soutenir une toile fermée sur les 5 côtés où pouvaient tenir debout 60 personnes et un podium plat en contreplaqué de 5 m x 5 m où pouvait évoluer le cosmos. L’opérateur était caché debout dans un réduit fermé jusqu’en haut, avec un trou rectangulaire où il pouvait voir le robot et le public. C’était l’opérateur qui parlait dans un talkie-walkie, et l’autre TW (récepteur) était dans la tête du robot qui mesurait 40 cm de diamètre. Cosmos faisait presque 2 mètres de haut.

A un moment, Cosmos disait: «j’étais toujours le dernier à l’école …» (en fait, c’est ce que disait l’opérateur caché, en parlant lentement pour que la bouche ait le temps de s’ouvrir et de se refermer à chaque parole) … «… mais je parle toutes les langues, si vous avez des questions à me poser dans votre langue, je vous répondrai avec plaisir!»
Pas difficile: l’opérateur parlait les 4 ou 5 langues les plus courantes en Europe! C’est ce qui estomaquait le plus le public.

Pour le transporter sans le démonter, ainsi que tout le matériel pour monter la tente, j’avais un vieux camion Leyland Diesel fourgon en bois, où logeait le tout.

Je suis parti à San Sebastian (Espagne) où il y a un minuscule Disneyland en haut d’une montagne qui domine la ville, et j’y ai donné huit jours de représentations. Il y avait le problème suivant: un des bateaux de pêche du port avait la même longueur d’onde que mon TW, et quand ce bateau parlait, il actionnait aussi le robot. Une fois, il s’est mis à avancer sur le public et j’ai dû sauter vers lui pour déconnecter la batterie et l’immobiliser!

Je suis revenu au «Rancho» de mon père, je l’ai remisé dans un hangar et je suis parti pour un mois au Chili où j’avais été 5 ans auparavant importateur de voitures et motos BMW (avec un associé chilien qui était le capitaliste!) et à mon retour j’ai trouvé le robot tout cassé, ma sœur le faisant voir à ses enfants du catéchisme qui lui avaient notamment grimpé dessus. Je n’ai pu sauver que la tête qui était en résine et fibre de verre.

Et c’est après cela que je me suis mis à construire un Pou-du-Ciel. Le premier fut un HM-360 que m’a appris à faire Pierre Mignet … et ensuite j’ai pu faire les autres tout seul. Le plus gros avait une grosse cabine derrière le pilote, en tubes de fer soudés par le forgeron, et où l’on pouvait charger une jeep Citroën (Méhari). Moteur Continental 180 CV qui l’a très bien fait voler 4 fois, puis j’ai été dénoncé par un jaloux du coin et réprimandé car cet appareil n’était pas réceptionné (Véritas) et ne pouvait l’être puisqu’il était fait avec des matériaux de chez le quincaillier (j’ai encore les photos!).

Et c’est ainsi que j’ai dépensé tout l’héritage de mes parents, mais je me suis bien amusé et ne le regrette pas.

Naturellement, je n’ai pas eu le temps de me marier et je ne l’ai fait qu’ici à Matamoros à l’âge de 70 ans, avec une Mexicaine. Et c’est dans sa maison que j’ai monté mon atelier pour faire les G.E.F.Boats après avoir commencé à Brownsville TX sans pouvoir y rester car je n’y ai pas obtenu la résidence. Il n’est pas impossible que l’année prochaine je fasse ici un Pou-du-Ciel prototype «true ultralight», qui me harcèle depuis longtemps, et par où du reste j’aurais dû commencer!

* * *

ROBOT COSMOS: RENDONS A CESAR… (rectificatif et précisions)

Nous avons reçu ce message du neveu de l'inventeur du robot "Cosmos":


Je suis tombé par hasard sur le site "pou guide" ou Michel d' Eschata évoque le robot cosmos, attraction foraine.

Je suis le neveu de Christian Dupont, qui a inventé ce robot et le présentait dans les foires et les cirques dans les années 50. Il en a déposé le brevet et fut même primé pour cette invention au salon international de Monaco en 1960. Après un revers de fortune, il fut contraint de le vendre a Michel d' Eschata à l aube des années 70. Cependant les propos de Michel d' Eschata peuvent laisser entendre que ce robot a été concu et présenté par lui alors qu il n'en fut que l'acquéreur tardif.

Aussi je vous remercie de bien vouloir ajouter un rectificatif, en précisant bien que Mr christian dupont est l ingénieur qui a concu cette machine et aussi le seul créateur et producteur de ce spectacle forain. Vous trouverez en pièces jointe deux coupures de journaux d époque ,sur l une d elle mon oncle est photographié aux cotés de "son fils en tole" comme il aimait à l'appeler.

Je vous remercie de votre bienveillante attention,

Mickael Dupont.


Origine de l’article: courrier de M. D'ESCATHA à Paul PONTOIS + correctif de mr. Dupont
Mise en ligne: Thibaut CAMMERMANS

**Google translation**

Which character is Michel Escatha? A slice of life:


The robot "Cosmos" by Michel ESCATHA

Comment printed on the back of the postcard of the robot Cosmos:
This robot was built by a French engineer, asked more than 8,000 hours.
He speaks, acts, moves completely alone and obey the orders given to him.
It was awarded off contest at the International Exhibition of Invention of Monaco in 1960.

My robot operated with a 12 V car battery that powered 12 small wiper motors controlled by radio control. He moved forward, backward, turning right or left by a single swivel wheel under the saucer and turned with it.

Stirred at will: the head, arms, shoulders, toes, the thumb of the left hand. When he spoke, he opened his big mouth perfectly synchronized with every word, and every time the lights were lit in her throat and into her eyes. The whole head was a slight movement back and forth when he spoke, and people thought it was a hidden child inside who was operating.

I've never seen until now a robot as sophisticated.

My mother did not want me to go to the fairgrounds to make it work (I had a metal frame to support a closed canvas on five sides where 60 people could stand and podium flat plywood 5 mx 5 m which could change the cosmos. Operators standing was hidden in a small closed up high, with a rectangular hole where he could see the robot and the public. It was the operator who spoke in a walkie-talkie, TW and the other (receiver) was in the robot's head, which measured 40 cm in diameter.

Cosmos was almost two meters high.

At one point, Cosmos said: "I was always the last to school …" (in fact, it is said that the hidden operator, speaking slowly so that the mouth is the time to open and close to each word) … "… but I speak all languages, if you have any questions for me in your language, I will answer you with pleasure!"
Not difficult: the operator spoke 4 or 5 most common languages ​​in Europe! This is what most estomaquait the public.

To carry unmount, and all hardware to mount the tent, I had an old truck Leyland Diesel truck in the woods, where all lived.

I went to San Sebastian (Spain) where there is a tiny Disneyland on top of a mountain overlooking the city, and I gave them a week's performances. There was an issue where a fishing boat from the port had the same wave length as my TW, and when the boat was speaking, he also activated the robot. Once he began to advance on the public and I had to jump at him to disconnect the battery and stop!

I returned to the "Rancho" My father, I have stored in a hangar and I left for a month in Chile where I was 5 years ago importer of BMW cars and motorcycles (with a Chilean partner who was capitalist!) and on my return I found all broken robot, see my sister doing her catechism children who had climbed including him. I could not save the head was made of resin and fiberglass.

And it was after this that I started to build a Pou-du-Ciel. The first was a HM-360 that has taught me to Pierre Mignet … and then I could do the other alone. The biggest was a big cabin behind the pilot, iron pipes welded by a blacksmith,

and where you could load a jeep Citroën (Mehari). Continental 180 hp engine which has done very well steal 4 times and I was denounced by a jealous corner and reprimanded because this device was not received (Veritas) and could not be done because it was with materials from the hardware store (I still have the photos).

And so I spent the whole heritage of my parents, but I enjoyed myself and have no regrets. Naturally, I have not had time to get married and I did that here in Matamoros at the age of 70 years, with a Mexican. And it is in the house that I built my workshop to the GEFBoats after starting Brownsville without being able to stay because I did not get the residence. It is not impossible that next year I make here a Pou-du-Ciel prototype "true ultralight" harassing me for a long time, and where the rest I should have started!


COSMOS ROBOT: A CESAR OURSELVES … (Correction and clarification)

We received this message from the nephew of the inventor of the robot "Cosmos"


I stumbled on the site "power guide" or eschata Michel d 'refers to the robot cosmos, fairground attraction.

I am the nephew of Christian Dupont, who invented the robot and exhibited at fairs and circuses in the 50s. He filed the patent was awarded for the same invention in the International Exhibition of Monaco in 1960. After a reversal of fortune, he was forced to sell it eschata Michel d 'at dawn 70s. However, about Michel eschata 's may suggest that this robot was designed and presented by him then that it was not that late buyer.

Also thank you to add a correction, stating that Mr christian smith is the engineer who designed this machine and also the sole creator and producer of the sideshow. In enclosed rooms are two newspaper clippings of time on one of her uncle is photographed alongside "his son sheet metal" as he liked to call it.

Thank you for your kind attention,

Michael Dupont.

————————————————– ——————————

Original article: M. D'ESCATHA Paul PONTOIS + patch Mr. Dupont
Posted: Thibaut Cammermans