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Cybernetic tortoise, c 1950.

Exton, David

Cybernetic tortoise, c 1950.
3 3 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 25cm


This 'tortoise', invented by William Grey Walter at the Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol, was an 'artificial animal' designed to investigate brain functions and was a landmark in both robotics and cybernetics. Given the name 'Machina speculatrix', it was designed to behave like a simple animal. Wired to display certain characteristics, it could travel around floors, manoeuvre to avoid obstacles, and was equipped with a photo-receptor so it would approach moderate light but avoid bright illumination.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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