William Grey Walter, neurophysiologist, c 1950s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
After graduating from King's College, Cambridge, Grey Walter (1910-1977) undertook neurophysiological research at at various hospitals. He discovered the theta and delta waves in the electroencephalogram, but is best remembered for the work he began in the late 1940s on mobile autonomous robots at the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol. His 'cybernetic tortoise' was an 'artificial animal' designed to investigate brain functions and was a landmark in both robotics and cybernetics. Wired to display certain characteristics, it could travel around floors, respond to light and manoeuvre to avoid obstacles.