Posts Tagged ‘ELSIE’

W. Grey Walter’s Tortoises – Self-recognition and Narcissism

Self-recognition and the Mirror Dance

[Image source: An Imitation of Life,  Scientific American, May 1950, p42-45.]

7 . Self-recognition. The machines are fitted with a small flash-lamp bulb in the head which is turned off automatically whenever the photo-cell receives an adequate light signal. When a mirror or white surface is encountered the reflected light from the head-lamp is sufficient to operate the circuit controlling the robot's response to light, so that the machine makes for its own reflection; but as it does so, the light is extinguished, which means that the stimulus is cut off — but removal of the stimulus restores the light, which is again seen as a stimulus, and so on. The creature therefore lingers before a mirror, flickering, twittering, and jigging like a clumsy Narcissus. The behaviour of a creature thus engaged with its own reflection is quite specific, and on a purely empirical basis, if it were observed in an animal, might be accepted as evidence of some degree of self-awareness. In this way the machine is superior to many quite 'high' animals who usually treat their reflection as if it were another animal, if they accept it at all.

Source: p115, W. Grey Walter, The Living Brain, 1953 -see chapter 5 – Totems, Toys, and Tools

What can be seen or determined in the photo of Elsie below?  

1. tracer candle visibility;

2. low batteries (because it enters the hutch which is strategically placed to the right of the mirror).

Figure 7. Elsie performs in front of a mirror, but is probably responding to the candlelight rather than to her pilot light. [RH 2010 -Most earlier comments by others are of this rather un-clear image of the so-called 'mirror dance'.]

Prior to the release of the clearer Life image of Elsie performing the 'mirror dance' (see pic below) Holland in "Legacy of Grey Walter" describes it as follows:

Recognition of self
A pilot light is included in the scanning circuit in such a way that the headlamp is extinguished whenever another source of light is encountered. If, however, this other source happens to be a reflection of the headlamp itself in a mirror, the light is extinguished as soon as it is perceived and being no longer perceived, the light is again illuminated, and so forth. This situation sets up a feedback circuit of which the environment is a part, and in consequence the creature performs a characteristic dance which, since it appears always and only in this situation, may be regarded formally as being diagnostic of self-recognition. This suggests the hypothesis that recognition of self may depend upon perception of one’s effect upon the environment.

The below from Discussions on Child Development,  1971, see Book II 1954-56 p35-6.


With Fig. 6 we come to some of the refinements which emerged only some time after these creatures had been made. This mode of behaviour and the next one were, quite frankly, surprising to us though, of course, we ought to have been able to predict them. Fig. 6 illustrates the situation when a creature of this type is confronted by its reflection in a mirror. It has on its nose a small pilot light, put in originally to tell us what was happening inside; it is so arranged
that it is turned off when the creature sees another light; that is, it tells us when the photo-tropistic mechanism is in operation.
In this case, the light which the creature was allowed to see was its own pilot light in the mirror. In this situation, the act of 'seeing' it makes it automatically extinguish the light which it sees. The apparent stimulus light having been extinguished, it turns it on again, then off and so on, so that you get a characteristic oscillation. You can see how peculiar and regular it is by the zigzag going up the side of the mirror. This is an absolutely characteristic mode of behaviour, which is seen always and only when the creature is responding to its own reflection. This is an example of the situation I described in the second proposition, where the reflexive circuit includes an environmental operator; in such a situation you get a characteristic mode of behaviour which occurs always and only when the model is reacting to itself.


“The creature therefore lingers before a mirror, flickering, twittering and jigging like a clumsy Narcissus” (Grey Walter, 1963, p. 115). Grey Walter interpreted this famous mirror dance as evidence of self-recognition.

The drawing of the famous `mirror dance’ in `An imitation of life’ [from Scientific American] is nothing like the regular alternation between the tortoise's approach and avoidance as shown in the photograph, being an altogether more irregular and complex trajectory. There may well have been a mirror dance that could have been argued to be a form of self-recognition, but unfortunately this photograph cannot be said to be a record of it. The brightest light visible to the camera, and presumably to the photocell, is the candle on the tortoise’s back and its reflection in the mirror. The trace is far more likely to reflect the alternation of behaviour pattern P (approach to the reflected candlelight) with behaviour pattern O (obstacle avoidance on contact with the mirror). We can be sure that Walter used this image as an example of the mirror dance because it appears in the form of a diagram in the transcript of a talk he gave in 1954 (Walter 1956b); the text matches closely the account given in `Accomplishments of an artefact’. Interestingly, the description of the mirror dance in de Latil’s book also matches this photograph rather than Grey Walter’s original description and Bernarda Bryson Shahn’s sketch.

For most people, with regards to the image above (see figure 7), one could hardly refer to this behaviour as "flickering, twittering and jigging like a clumsy Narcissus". However, you could do so to the above illustration by Bernarda Bryson (partner and later married to the artist Ben Shahn), as illustrated in Scientific American (Walter, W. Grey, "An Imitation of Life," Scientific American, May 1950, p42-45.). The above illustration is actually of Elmer, and not Elsie as is the below photo. This also gives more credence to Grey's use of the word Narcissus, being the son of a Greek god who became obsessed by his own image. [Elmer scans clockwise, the opposite of Elsie and the bump aviodance traverse therefore is from right to left. see here.]

[Narcissus : In Greek mythology, a beautiful youth who fell in love with his own reflection. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Leriope. His mother was told by a seer that he would have a long life, provided he never saw his own reflection. His callous rejection of the nymph Echo or of his lover Ameinias drew upon him the gods' vengeance: he fell in love with his own image in the waters of a spring and wasted away. The narcissus flower sprang up where he died.]

Although Elmer was then long gone, Grey Walter continued to use this more interesting description of self-recognition along with the below image, although it didn't and couldn't match with the sometimes erratic behaviour of the original tortoise, Elmer  and could no longer be reproduced with the newer models.

In my opinion, in the cycloidal trace seen above, the 'bottom' of the cycloid appears flattened and bright spots at the start of the cycloid 'flats' appear. To me, this is indicative of 'bump' avoidance behaviour, not self-recognition.  When I visited the Bristol Robot Labs in 2009 to see the replica tortoises, the comment was passed to me that they were unable to satisfactorily reproduce the self-recognition behaviour as described by Grey Walter.

A relatively recent , clearer image of the so-called 'mirror dance' as released by Life Magazine.

A comment on Time-Lapse Photographs in General:
In interpreting all the time-lapse photographs, there are several aspects to keep in mind.
As already mentioned in pervious posts on the Tortoises, the cycloidal gait makes Elsie traverse to the right as her scanner turns in a counter-clockwise direction. Elmer, on the other hand, scans clockwise and because of the trailing action of the rear-wheels, will veer to the left. I must say, though, that the illustrations suggest that with no light source to track towards, Elmer tends to move in a forward direction and not sideways.
Most of the pictures show Elsie heading towards a light, either a candle or the hutch light, sometime a light out of sight near the camera.
Where you see two identical Elsies, it is actually the photographer’s technique of photographing Elsie at the start of the run, then  Elsie at the end of the run. There are not two separate Tortoises except where they look physically different i.e. Elmer has the ‘scaled’ Bakelite sheeting shell. The single trajectory is also an indicator of only a single Tortoise being traced.

Notice also that the flame of the target candle is placed at the same height as the PEC (the Photo-Electric Cell) in the scanning turret. 

W. Grey Walter and his Tortoises

The published posts for W. Grey Walter and his Tortoises.
 ELMER – a new species of animal – M. speculatrix
  ELSIE – M. speculatrix
 ELSIE – upgraded
 CORA – the tortoise – M. docilis  
 Grey Walter’s Tortoises – the video clips
  Time-Lapse Photographs of ELMER with ELSIE
 W. Grey Walter and the Festival of Britain (1951)
 Grey Walter’s Transistorized Tortoise
 W. Grey Walter, IBM , Charles Eames & The Tortoise
 Dr. W. Grey Walter
 Dr. W. Grey Walter (cont)
 Dr. W. Grey Walter & Norbert Wiener
 W. Grey Walter, Edmund C. Berkeley, Ivan E. Sutherland and the Tortoise
 M. Speculatrix – Scanning: It makes all the difference
 W. Grey Walter’s Tortoises – Self-recognition & Narcissism
 Tortoises – Batteries, Re-charging, Hutches and Autonomy
 W. Grey Walter, Edmund C. Berkeley, and the Toy Business
 W. Grey Walter Tortoises – Picture Gallery #1
 W. Grey Walter Tortoises – Picture Gallery #2

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W. Grey Walter Tortoises – Picture Gallery #2

Some more photos of W. Grey Walter and his Tortoises.


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland.


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland.


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland.


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland

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BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland


BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland


Joe Engelberger looking over the then, newly restored original Tortoise.

BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland.


Image courtesy Steve Battle.

La Scienza Illustrata 1950_10-walter-tortoise-2-x640

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BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland. Photo by Meljay Photographers of New York.

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Tortoise detail. At this stage, assuming tortoise is #6, it has not yet been customised with the top-mounted spare vacuum tube clips nor the tiny spanner used to adjust the relays.

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BNI archives, courtesy of Owen Holland.

Grey Walter in America with his own #6 from the batch of 6 made by "Bunny" Warren of the BNI for the 1951 Festival of Britain. The machine in front is CORA (Mark II), the desktop demonstration model.  As suggested by others, I do not believe the desktop model of CORA was ever wired into a Machina Speculatrix tortoise. It was a very much self-contained and separate from the tortoises.

I believe the CORA (Mark I) (possibly in the image below) was probably "Elmer" converted  by adding the additional reflex circuits. The seemingly black holes are clear sections in the painted plastic shell and were probably there to see the neon lamps operating as part of the additional circuit. At one stage, there were two circuits added, each tuned to a different note from a UK police whistle (which could produce two notes separately or together. When sounded together, this is when the so-called neurosis kicked in, eventually solved by a technique favoured by Walter, leucotomy (labotomy), in this case by cutting out the additional circuits, turning CORA (a machina docilis) back into ELSIE (a machina speculatrix).  


Both photo's by (or for) Pierre DeLatil. Note the extra battery pack in both photos, weighting or lifting the shell to simulate 'bump' mode, maybe to attract baby Timothy for the sake of the photo shoot.

Dr. Ray Cooper (Dir. Burden Neurological Institute), Vivian Walter (nee Dovey) and Dr. W. Grey Walter with two tortoises c1956. Thanks to Owen Holland for correcting the names.

Unfortunately the above image is so poor that it is difficult to see any additional circuitry on what looks like ELSIE that would make it a CORA.


Image from "Future Shock" documentary.


Image of ELSIE showing shell, plastic 'antennae', and lamp at the front.

Meccano model of a tortoise.

See other Grey Walter and his Tortoises here.

See other Cybernetic Creatures here.

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Grey Walter’s Tortoises – the video clips

In my research for all things Grey Walter and his tortoises, I have uncovered five (5) video clips available on the internet.

Of the five, I have downloaded four of them, the 5th has been allusive for some time, having not been able to re-locate it again after spending many hours trying. It is not so bad, as this video clip is a newsreel clip of the IBM exhibition "A Computer Perspective" and is a walk-by of the static model. I took a still image of it at the time, though.

The other four I will try to re-locate on the web as I did not keep the link when I downloaded them sometime ago.

When I describe tortoise behaviours in a future post, I will refer to these video clips.

(not re-located on yet!)

A "Computer Perspective" film was produced (1971). Its been loaded into Youtube by the Eames Office. Thanks to Domenico in notifying me of this. The  tortoise is 7:22sec into the  clip.


Bristol's Robot Tortoises Have Minds Of Their Own

In a simple villa on the outskirts of Bristol lives Dr. Grey Walter, a neurologist, who makes robots as a hobby. They are small and he doesn't dress them up to look like men – he calls them tortoises. And so cunningly have their insides been designed that they respond to the stimuli of light and touch in a completely life-like manner. This model is named Elsie and she "sees" out of a photo-electric cell which rotates about her body. When light strikes the cell driving and steering mechanisms send her hurrying towards it. If she brushes against any objects in her path, contacts are operated which turn the steering away, and so, automatically, she takes avoiding action. Mrs. Walter's pet is Elmer. Elsie's brother, in the darker vest. He works in exactly the same way. Dr. Walter says that his electronic toys work exactly as though they have a simple two-cell nervous system, and that with more cells, they would be able to do many more tricks. Already Elsie has one up on Elmer. When her batteries begin to fail, she automatically runs home to her kennel for charging up, and in consequence can lead a much gayer life.


Now meet Dr Grey Walter of Britain . Why the torch? Well, here's the reason – its Toby, a mechanical tortoise with an electronic brain which functions like the human mind. Toby's  head, or rather 'magic-eye' is a photo-electric cell constantly revolving until it picks up the strongest source of light, to which it is then attracted. In this case an ordinary electric torch guides the mechanical tortoise in any direction its inventor chooses. It can also negotiate obstacles.  When it hits an object, the pressure on the shell causes a short circuit of the photo-electric cell mechanism, and the tortoise moves at random until it is free of the obstacle. With a stronger source of light placed in position, Toby is attracted to the lamp  in the same way as a moth is attracted by light. Now, the front wheel of the tricycle undercarriage which is coupled to the photo-electric cell motor is turning on its axle while its two back wheels remain static and the tortoise attempts to get still closer to the light. A small syringe is being used to inflate the tyres, and with its shell removed, the inner workings of the complicated mechanism of Dr Walter's brain-child and the immediate affect of light on the magic-eye can be seen. Toby's probably getting tired and hungry by now for light to Toby is like food to any ordinary animal. And that light in his hutch never fails to bring him home,  without a torch, too.

Note: It is interesting that the tortoise is called "Toby" by the narrator. I don't know if this is journalistic license or whether, in fact, after the "CORA" circuit was cut out, the tortoise was actually called "Toby" thereafter.

This segment is from the movie "Future Shock". It is 17:27 minutes in. The unit next to the tortoise is not CORA, but another unidentified model, used as a prop for obstacle avoidance.

TRANSCRIPT: [Orson Wells – Narrator]

Step by step, the body parts grow disposable-like products we use and discard. This quaint English village, a remnant of permanence in a    future-shocked world  is the home of neurophysiologist  Grey Walter . He's one of the many scientists leading us towards the ultimate replacement –  Artificial Intelligence. Twenty-five years ago he pioneered the development of behaviour machines.

[WGW] This looks rather as though it was a childs'  toy, and I suppose it might be, but in fact it's a rather serious model of my ideas of behaviour. And it behaves in a complex way with all kinds of behaviour modes only having two elements compared with our ten billion in our brains, but its behaviour is finely?  complex. Now you see it hesitating a moment,  and then the body out of ?  and on its way slowly and by a rather devious path, right into its hutch down here. And so, rather like us, it has a sense of ?? which although its such a very simple  toy, but not really just a toy, a model of behaviour . END

(in French)

Site is quirky.  You need to register to view the clip. Last time I tried registration took around 24 hours. If you still can't see it in the English version, use the French version. Search criteria is CONGRÈS DE LA CYBERNÉTIQUE TORTUE . Date of clip = 18/01/1951: running time =
57 secs.  Clip also shows the chess automaton of Torres y Quevedo.

CHALLENGE: If a French speaking person would like to offer a translated transcript, I will publish it here.

See also my other posts on Grey Walter and his Tortoises here.


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1951 – La Tortue Cybernetique (Cybernetic Tortoise) – Paul-Alain Amouriq (French)

In late 1951, Paul-Alain Amouriq, a Frenchman then aged 17, built a cybernetic tortoise inspired by Grey Walter's as published in a French science magazine Science et Vie (February 1951). Several years later Science et Vie became aware of Amouriq's tortue, and Pierre de Latil visited him and the subsequent article was published in the March 1954 issue.

It uses all-relay logic, no vacuum-tubes are used at all.

Photo courtesy A.-P. Amouriq 2009.

STOP PRESS – 9th Oct 09 –Wonderful news – Paul A. AMOURIQ saw this post about his "tortue" and posted the first ever comment to my new blog. Thanks Paul.

He has sent through some further information, plus a picture of what 'tortue' looks like now after some technology modifications. See new info at bottom of this post.

Note: The picture of the Tortue below is facing to the right. The single steering wheel is at the rear of the tortoise.

Photo courtesy A.-P. Amouriq 2009.

Attirée par la lumière et sachant contourner l'obstacle, la tortue de P.-A. Amouriq est le mieux agencé des robots cybernétiques.



Un animal artificiel de plus, et fabriqué par un jeune homme de dix-sept ans ?…
Simple « bricolage » d'amateur imité des précédents, sera-t-on tenté de penser.
Mais d'abord quand Paul-Alain Amouriq, alors élève de « mathelem » à Louis-le-Grand (il prépare aujourd'hui sa licence ès sciences) le construisit, c'était il y a deux ans, et nul n'avait encore donné de descendance aux fameuses « tortues » de Grey Walter.
Ensuite cet engin autonome et automatique n'a rien d'une improvisation. Bien au contraire, il est calculé ; c'est le mieux construit, le mieux agencé des diverses « tortues », le seul qui ne soit pas réalisé avec de simples pièces de « meccano ». Il faut préciser que le lycéen bénéficia du concours d'une grande firme d'appareils de mesures électriques dont son père est directeur.
Tout entière usinée en duralumin, sa machine n'est pas une simple copie améliorée des « espèces » antérieures d'animaux artificiels. Elle présente plusieurs dispositifs originaux.

Une inspiration puisée dans « Science et Vie »

C'est en lisant l'article consacré par Science et Vie aux tortues électroniques de Grey Walter que P.-A. Amouriq, comprenant tout l'intérêt de ces premières applications de la cybernétique balbutiante, voulut réaliser une nouvelle «espèce ».
Son engin aurait trois roues dont une à la fois directrice et motrice. A la différence d'Elmer et d'Elsie, premières nées de l'espèce Machina speculatrix, la roue directrice ne serait pas à l'avant, mais à l'arrière. Ainsi les virages seraient mieux « pris », l'engin risquant moins d'accrocher, par exemple, le chambranle d'une porte au-delà de laquelle il vient d'apercevoir une attirante lumière.
Deux sensibilités : un sens nuancé, la vue, et une sensibilité plus fruste, celle des chocs.
Les organes de la vue sont deux cellules photoélectriques qui balaient l'horizon.

Qu'il en existe deux et non une seule, peut donner des réactions beaucoup plus subtiles aux perceptions visuelles.
La somme des courants perçus par les deux cellules représente une appréciation de  'intensité lumineuse ; à cette fin, les cellules sont montées en « parallèle », mais leur montage « en opposition » confère aussi au robot l'appréciation de la direction de la source lumineuse.
L'influence de la cellule de droite l'emporte si celle-ci perçoit plus de lumière que la gauche ; ou inversement. Si la lumière se trouve juste entre les deux « yeux »,  les deux influences se balancent. Quant à la sensibilité aux chocs, elle se traduit par une augmentation de l'intensité dans le moteur de locomotion brusquement bloqué, puisque les roues ne peuvent plus avancer. Voilà donc la bestiole conçue, sensible à l'intensité et à la direction de la lumière ainsi qu'aux chocs contre un obstacle. Restait à décider de quelle façon elle réagirait — car une machine ne pourra jamais « connaître » que par les sens et agir que par les organes dont nous l'aurons dotée.
Paul-A. Amouriq gratifia son engin d'actes simples : avancer à plein régime ou à demi-régime, tourner, ou reculer (un seul régime).

Un comportement très avancé 

Voyons comment ces actes sont reliés aux sensations que provoquent, par leur présence et leur absence, la lumière et les obstacles. Admettons qu'il n'y ait pas de lumière. C'est un cas particulier d'une perception équilibrée des deux cellules. Le moteur de direction, lequel est naturellement sensible au déséquilibre des perceptions lumineuses, n'entre pas en jeu et la marche est rectiligne. Mais l'absence de courant dans le circuit affecté par l'intensité lumineuse détermine l'introduction d'une résistance dans le circuit des batteries alimentant le moteur de direction ; ce courant d'alimentation faiblit donc, et la marche est ralentie. En même temps, une lampe s'allume à l'avant du robot. Elle symbolise un état dé prudente investigation. D'ailleurs, si la lampe est assez puissante, elle peut par son reflet avertir de la présence d'un obstacle.

Recul devant l'éblouissement, mais sur choc, demi-tour

Admettons maintenant qu'il y a au moins une lumière. L'animal se dirige alors vers elle. Mais, dès que l'intensité lumineuse devient trop forte, il recule jusqu'à ce que l'intensité de cette lumière (ou d'une autre) soit de nouveau attirante.
Les cellules photoelectriques — du moins celles utilisées ici — ont un défaut : elles sont moins sensibles lorsqu'elles perçoivent de la lumière depuis un moment. Mais ce défaut s'est trouvé salutaire : il confère à l'engin une nuance de comportement hors programme : l'animal domine en partie sa réaction de recul et s'approche de plus en plus du danger.

En cas de choc

Que se produit-il dans le cas d'un heurt ?
L'excès de courant dans le moteur de locomotion commande immédiatement la marche arrière, ainsi que l'inversion du courant des cellules. Cela pendant cinq à six secondes — le temps de parcourir 30 à 50 cm. Puis c'est de nouveau la marche avant, mais le parcours n'est plus le même.
Si l'obstacle est heurté pendant un recul, alors intervient une désensibilisation à la lumière.
Pendant quelques instants l'engin marche en avant à la recherche de l'obscurité, et ce n'est qu'après un repos d'une dizaine de secondes, dans un état d'équilibre des deux cellules, que la marche vers la lumière reprend.


Simplicité et sensibilité

Regardons maintenant l'ensemble du mécanisme : il ne comporte aucune lampe de radio, aucun amplificateur, mais seulement des relais d'une extrême sensibilité, mis au point par le père du jeune cybernéticien. Ainsi l'engin est-il beaucoup plus solide et possède-t-il" un comportement bien plus stable que ne l'était celui de ses devanciers.
L'ensemble, fixé sur une plaque de bakélite, est facile à démonter du châssis. Nous ne ferons pas un parallèle entre ce robot et les tortues de Grey Walter. Du moins, grâce à la possession de deux « yeux » se comportet-il plus comme un animal que ne font les tortues de Grey Walter dotées d'un seul oeil tournant dans un seul sens, ce qui fait qu'elles ne peuvent tourner que dans un seul sens, contourner un obstacle que d'un seul côté. Avec deux yeux dotés d'un va-et-vient symétrique, la marche vers la lumière est plus décidée ; elle n'est pas pour cela absolument rectiligne car toujours, dans la pratique, l'influence d'une cellule l'emporte sur l'autre, ce qui détermine de très légers zig-zags correspondant exactement aux corrections continuelles par lesquelles procède la marche (et en fait tous les gestes) des êtres vivants.
Quant à l'alimentation automatique, elle n'est certes pas réalisée dans ce robot.

Mais ceux de Grey Walter ont démontré une fois pour toutes qu'un tel mécanisme était possible. Il est secondaire désormais de vouloir, au prix de complications mécaniques, le reproduire.

Pierre de Latil


Using Google language translator:


Attracted by the light and knowledge around the obstacle, the turtle P.-A. Amouriq is better organized cyber robots.



An animal more artificial, manufactured by a young man of seventeen years? …
Simple 'DIY' amateur imitation of precedents, will he be tempted to think.
But first, when Paul-Alain Amouriq, then a student of "mathelem" Louis-le-Grand (he now prepares his BSc) built on was two years ago, and no one had yet given lineage to the famous "turtle" by Walter Gray.
Then the autonomous vehicle is not automatic and an improvisation. Rather, it is calculated, it is better built, better organized various "turtle", the only one that is not done with simple pieces of "meccano". It should be noted that the student enjoyed the support of a large firm of electrical measuring instruments which his father is the director.
Completely machined duralumin, his machine is not a simple copy improved "species" of previous artificial animals. It has many original features.

Drawing inspiration from "Science and Life"

In reading the article on Science and Life by turtles electronic Grey Walter that P.-A. Amouriq, including the interest of the first applications of cybernetics in its infancy, would produce a new "species".
His machine would have three wheels with both a director and driving. Unlike Elmer and Elsie, first born of the species Machina speculatrix , the steering wheel would not be in front, but on the back. Thus the curves are better "caught" the craft less likely to hang, for example, the jamb of a door beyond which it has seen an attractive light.
Two sensitivities: a nuanced sense, sight, and sensitivity crudest, the shocks.
The organs of sight are two photocells sweeping horizon.

That there are two rather than one, can provide much more subtle reactions to visual perceptions.
The sum of the currents collected by the two cells represents an assessment of light intensity and to this end, the cells are connected in "parallel, but mounting" in opposition "also gives the robot the assessment of the direction of the source light.
The influence of cell line wins if it receives more light than the left, or vice versa. If the light is just between the two "eyes", the two influences are balanced. As for sensitivity to shock, it results in an increased intensity in the locomotive engine suddenly stopped, because the wheels can not move anymore. So that the creature designed, sensitive to the intensity and direction of light as well as a barrier against shock. It remained to decide how she would react – because a machine can never "know" only through the senses and act as the bodies which we have endowed.
Paul-A. Amouriq bestowed his gear acts of simple forward at full or half-system, turn, or back (one system).

Conduct advanced

Let's see how these acts are linked to sensations that provoke, by their presence and absence, light and obstacles. Let there be no light. It is a special case of a balanced perception of the two cells. The engine management, which is naturally sensitive to the imbalance of light perception, is not at stake and walk a straight line. But the absence of current in the circuit affected by light intensity determines the introduction of resistance in the circuit of the batteries supplied to the engine management; the supply current weakens, then, and walking is slow. At the same time, a lamp lit in front of the robot. It symbolizes a state of cautious investigation. Moreover, if the lamp is powerful enough, she can tell by his reflection in the presence of an obstacle.

Decline to glare, but on shock, turn

Suppose now that there is at least one light. The animal then heads towards it. But when the light intensity becomes too strong, it recedes until the intensity of the light (or another) is again appealing.
Photoelectric cells – at least those used here – have a flaw: they are less sensitive when they receive light for a while. But this defect has been salutary; it gives the vehicle a shade of behaviour outside the program: the animal dominates in part of its response comes back and more danger.


What happens in the case of a clash?
The excess current in the motor control of locomotion immediately reversing, and reversing the flow of cells. That for five to six seconds – time to walk 30 to 50 cm. Then again it forward, but the term is no longer the same.
If the obstacle is hit during a fall, then comes a desensitization to light.
For a few moments the craft forward march in search of darkness, and only after a rest of about ten seconds in a steady state of two cells, as walking towards the light resumed.


Simplicity and sensitivity

Now look at the whole system: it contains no radio tube, no amplifier, but only relays extreme sensitivity, developed by the young father of Cybernetics. Thus the gear he is much stronger and has he "behaviour much more stable than was that of his predecessors.
The complex, set on a bakelite plate is easy to disassemble chassis. We will not make a parallel between this robot and the turtles Walter Gray. At least, thanks to the possession of two "eyes" are comparable to more like an animal than for turtles Grey Walter's with a single eye turning in one direction, thus they can only rotate in one direction, around an obstacle on one side. With both eyes with a back-and-forth symmetrical walking towards the light is decided, it is not absolutely straight because it always, in practice, the influence of a cell outweighs the other, which determines very slight zig-zag match exactly with continual adjustments by which conducts walking (and indeed all the actions) of living beings.
As for the ADF, it is certainly not done in this robot.

But those of Grey Walter demonstrated once and for all that such a mechanism was possible. It is now secondary to want at the price of mechanical complications, reproduce.

Pierre de Latil


Photo taken at a zoo in Paris. Image courtesy A.-P. Amouriq 2009.

STOP PRESS – 9th Oct 09

Wonderful news – Paul A. AMOURIQ saw this post about his "la tortue" and posted the first ever comment to my new blog. Thanks Paul.

He has sent through some further information, plus a picture of what "la tortue" looks like now, after some technology modifications.

"Hello Reuben,
I will try to send you a not too old video clip of the tortue. Many years ago it has been equipted with a shell, the huge condensers and the batteries have been replaced by smaller ones and the chassis could be shortened. But it spent many years in a cellar and I had to repair it, change the selenium photocells (fortunately I could find the manufacturer, then retired, who still was having a couple of cells in a drawer and who has been kind enough to give them to me)  try to make the old relays working again. The 3 sensitive (black) relays are galvanometers with one contact on the pointer and 2 adjustable platinum contacts, one on each side.
I had seen the Elmer and Elsie of Grey Walter in 1949 in an article of the Science et Vie and that gave me the idea to try and make one. In fact I made about 4 models with Meccano pieces before making the one you know with the help of an engineer who machined the metal parts according to my drawings and instructions.
I met Albert Ducrocq and his partner in an exibition. Their renard was very slow and I never saw it really working but just moving a few centimeters.
With my best regards.
As IOTA is today…..

See all the Early Cybernetic Animals here.