William Grey Walter - Machina Speculatrix
These robots were built as learning platform by the late William Grey Walter in the 1940s.
They were phototropic - that is light following, and they were otherwise known as tortoises. A name derived from their plastic tortoise shaped shells, and a reference to Alice in Wonderland (paid link) - “We called him tortoise because he taught-us”.
The first two of these were named “Elmer” and “Elsie”. They consisted of a light sensor, touch sensor, propulsion motor, steering motor, and a two vacuum tube analogue computer. The simplicity of its design now would be similar to the BEAM Robots.
A second generation was built - and some of these now reside in a collection in the Smithsonian Institute.
There is currently a reconstructed Tortoise at the London Science Museum which actually performed in the Mind Zone of the Millennium Dome in Greenwich.
Taken by Pete Goodeve of The University of Berkeley, California.
|At The Science Museum||At The Millenium Dome|