Posts Tagged ‘Labyrinth’

1986 – “Humongous” (Labyrinth) – Jim Henson (American) / George Gibbs (British)

Copy of original artwork.

Labyrinth scene with Humongous:

Excerpt from Inside the Labyrinth:

Check Youtube for clips on "The Making of the Labyrinth".

The text for Inside the Labyrinth documentary was originally transcribed by Stephanie Massick.

JIM HENSON: "It seemed like right late in the story what we wanted was for our heroes to come up against some huge obstacle, something worse than anything they'd encountered so far. And we came up with the idea of building the largest puppet we'd ever built."

GEORGE GIBBS (special effects supervisor): "Jim asked us about last January. He said, 'Boys, I¹d like a fifteen-foot high giant.' We said, 'Oh yeah. Very interesting.' Lots of people had tried to make fifteen-foot giants that walk and throw their arms around. They hadn't been very successful. So it was a challenge, really. So, we decided how we were going to make it and we went ahead and made all the mechanics and everything work wonderfully. When the body was produced in fiberglass, it just wouldn't work, because the fiberglass wouldn¹t flex. Fortunately for us, we had our foam expert. And he developed a foam for us with skin, skin that would flex without looking rubbery. We made the foam look like steel armor."

JIM HENSON: "He weighs . . . I don't know how much. Lots. With all the rig and all the hydrolics, the thing has to be several tons. And so this was the largest, most complicated thing we'd ever built. We didn't have very long to build it, probably two to three months."

GEORGE GIBBS: "One man could operate the whole thing. In the old days, we'd have probably had five or six guys all at different levers, working hydrolics. But one man operates the whole of Humongous all by himself, makes him walk forward, makes his body spin 'round, makes him bow down, makes his arms swing the ax. And it's all done with hydrolics. Every move his arm makes, the arms of Humongous make exactly the same move."

JIM HENSON: "When George first showed me Humongous in action, it was really an amazing thing, to just stand there and have this large thing walk toward you. It's one of the most awesome sights in the world."

The walking animatronic.

Humongous was suspended by a horizontal beam in its back to a rolling platform on rails.

Radio-controlled eye movements.

The Waldo being used to control Humongous' right arm.

Close-up of animatronic walking frame.

Hoggle at the controls. Although there are electrical switches, Humongous was a "steam man".

Humongous from Labyrinth Guide by Chaotica.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1959 – Labyrinth solver with Ariadne’s Thread – Zemanek & Eier (Austrian)

Now in the Vienna Technical Museum.

Period photo showing Richard Eier opening the covers of the Labyrinth.

Zitat:  Gerhard Chroust, "Cybernetic Animals at the Technical University of Vienna" , in IFSR Newsletter, Vol. 18, Nummer 2, Seite(n) 2, 1999 

G. Chroust
Around 1960 Cybernetics was the path into the future. Numerous cybernetic machines, usually names after animals were being constructed to study phenomena of artificial intelligence.

Claude E. Shannon built a maze-solving mouse to study a labyrinthian problem – telephone switching systems: A call must make its way to its destination by the shortest possible path. The device contains a maze with fences that could be arranged to create various paths. The finder, built as mouse named ‘Theseus’, is moved by a magnet. It gropes its way from field to field and stores the direction, if it is possible to step on a field. If there is a wall, it will turn around and will try the next direction. Unless the mouse comes in a loop it will find the goal. It escapes from a loop through a pedometer which counts to the highest possible number of steps. The way from the entrance to the goal is stored in form of the direction in which the mouse left the field. One can put the mouse everywhere in the maze, it will follow the stored direction to the goal. Only if it comes to a new field or if the maze is changed, it will use a search algorithm, otherwise it will use the stored information.

At the Technical University of Vienna Richard Eier, one of the assistants of Heinz Zemanek re-build the maze-solving mouse around 1959. He improved Shannon’s method by applying the idea of  Ariadne’s thread. The mouse marks each field with the path information, using the concept of Ariadne’s thread. When winding up in a dead end it retraced, duplicating Ariadne’s thread: Whenever the mouse finds an exit from field where one tread leaves and another returns, it recognises a dead end. Similarly the mouse is able to detect circles in its path.

Richard Eier studied Schwachstrom-Technology at the Technical University of Vienna. As a thesis he built 1958 Under the auspices of Professor Dr. Zemanek his "mouse in the Labyrinth," by the automated search in a way Free plug a maze learning through success and failure simulated. The idea is to C. E. Shannon, The 1952 is one of the labyrinth to solve problems presented. Richard Eier developed their own ideas and visited the search algorithm with a virtual Ariadne-
Silly, so that at the end Both the successful way From start to the target as well as the Back shortest recorded. In the following
Years ago, the "mouse in the maze" A Vorzeigeobjekt for Vienna Kybernetischen models of Heinz Zemanek. It was in Austrian And several German television Demonstrated and was star guest at the "Micro Mouse Maze Contest "of the Euro Micro You, dear readers, some high points in life's work
My father and his father's doctor friend Mr. Em O. Univ .- Prof. Ing. Dr. Richard Eier to make is special to me Honor and joy. Galt my admiration of his first "in the mouse
Labyrinth "and his juggling with matrices, but soon outshined its people love everything. Professor Eier is Enabler, An individually Fördernder, he often appears modest in the background and waives his rightful glory. His scientific work has weight, shine through precise wording And the highest quality. On this basis is reliable today.

Richard Eier: Gedächtnissteuerung zur Orientierung in einem Labyrinth. Staatsprüfungsarbeit am Institut für Schwachstromtechnik der Technischen Hochschule Wien. Wien 1958.
[Mnemonic Control in a Maze] Diploma thesis of Richard Eier.  [ Unfortunately I do not have a copy of this document].

Automatic Path-finding in the Maze – R. Eier and H. Zemanek [ Automatische Orientierung im Labyrinth ] – pdf in German – no English translation.

It may not be obvious to readers that in implementing Ariadne's Thread, the mouse can escape the maze on the shortest path out by following the "thread" just "laid".  Other maze solvers are placed at the start and stop at the "cheese". A re-run of these mazes are all from the start position.

Selected images from my visit in June 2009 with David Buckley  [Photos by Reuben Hoggett and David Buckley]

Underside of mouse showing two imbedded magnets. Above it is the re-locatable goal (i.e. the "cheese").

Eier's Labyrinth now operated by a microprocessor – the relays are bypassed.

Front panel – detail.

Front panel outlining configured maze layout.

External relay covers.

Carriage mechanism.

Table-top with maze and mouse.

Internals showing one of the carriage motors.

Internal photo showing the wiring of the relays.

Thanks to Heinz Zemanek, and also Peter Schoen and Dr Otmar Moritsch of the Vienna Technical Museum who allowed David and Imyself to study and photograph the Labyrinth,  June 2009.  

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1935 Maze Solver – Dr. Stevenson Smith and Thomas Ross

MECHANICAL RAT FINDS WAY IN MAZE  – Popular Science Nov 1935

As if endowed with powers of reasoning, a mechanical “rat” devised by Dr. Stevenson Smith, University of Washington psychologist, threads its way through an artificial maze like those used to study the behavior of living rats. The three-wheeled, electric-powered device moves along a grooved path that divides at several points, obliging the “rat” to choose which direction to follow. If it takes the wrong turn and enters a blind alley, mechanical feelers cause it to halt, retrace its journey, and try again until the whole course is negotiated successfully. The odd model is designed to show how automatic reflexes differ from thinking processes.

Ogden Standard Examiner 01 September 1935

Psychology Professor Says Memory of New Devices Exceeds Mankind

SEATTLE, -Aug. 31.—(AP)—"Mechanical rat," described by Dr. Stevenson Smith, University of Washington psychology professor, as "able to remember what it has learned far better than any man.or animal can remember," was demonstrated here today.
"No living organism could be depended upon to make- no mistakes after one practice," Dr. Smith said.
"That is what this 'rat' can do".
Dr Smith then demonstrated the device, a small foot-long mechanism powered by a small electric motor, on three wheels, which groped its way through a maze of wooden tracks, across a long recitation room.
The first time it "failed," but by bumping a protruding piece of metal into a bumper at the end of the wrong track, it "learned that it shouldn't try that switch again. Under its own power after hitting the bumper, it retreated back beyond the switch, and "found" the other track and then proceeded forward.
The second time it was started at the beginning of the 40-foot maze,  it moved across the room, making no mistakes.
Dr. Smith gave most of the credit for its development to Thomas Ross of McClips, Wash., a junior student at the university.
Psychologists over the country have been working on the problem trying to develop such a device, Dr. Smith said.
"What is its practical value?" he was asked.
"We hardly know or foresee just now what can be done with it," he replied.
"I think, however, in studying the problem of learning, it will be useful to teach students some things and I also think it may teach psychologists some, too."

Time, Monday, Sep. 16, 1935

Robot Rat
In Seattle last week Dr. Stevenson Smith, University of Washington psychology professor, delighted colleagues and students by showing them a complicated "mechanical rat" which he and a helper had worked five years to perfect. Living rats, especially white ones, are favorites with animal psychologists who teach them to traverse complex mazes bristling with blind alleys, studying the effect on maze-learning of food, light, electric shock, drugs, blasts of air.
The Stevenson rat is impervious to all such lures and hindrances. Resembling a three-wheeled roller skate loaded with small motors, electromagnets and switches, the robot is set on a track containing twelve forks at each of which a wrong turn leads to a dead-end. The robot is first set to take the turn to the right at every fork. When this proves to be wrong and results in a bump against the dead-end, the "rat" goes into reverse, backs up past the fork, goes forward again, taking the correct left turn. This resets the controls in such a way as to enable the "rat" on the second try to negotiate the maze from start to finish without a single error.
"This machine," said its inventor, "remembers what it has learned far better than any man or animal. No living organism can be depended upon to make no errors of this type after one trial."

Image Title:  Teaching a machine to think.

Additional Name(s): Max — Publisher

Medium: Offset-Litho.

Specific Material Type: photomechanical prints

Item/Page/Plate: 62

Standard Reference: Cartophilic reference books, W70-4-

Source: [Cigarette cards.]  Age of Power and Wonder.

Source Description: 250 cigarette cards, 3.4 x 6.7 cm and 5.7 x 7.6 cm.

Location: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building / George Arents Collection

Catalog Call Number: Arents Cigarette Cards

Digital ID: 407639

Record ID: 222704

See also Thomas Ross' earlier Maze solver.

Tags: , , , , , ,