Robot zoo roars in Portugal

Art installation puts autonomous robots behind bars for people to observe.

A cage at Robotarium X
A cage at Robotarium X, the robot zoo in Portugal. Leonel Moura

Something tells me it's all happening at the zoo, but not the one Simon and Garfunkel sang about.

The Robotarium X, an art installation made by Leonel Moura, opened on Tuesday at the Jardim Central in Alverca, Portugal.

Leonel Moura
Leonel Moura Leonel Moura

The artist, who has been working with autonomous robots since 2003, has constructed "the first zoo for artificial life" filled with 45 different robots in corrals and a cages.

Most of the simple robots run off of solar power with some from electrical outlets in the floor of their cages.

Araneax
Araneax the robot arachnid Leonel Moura

The hairy black Araneax is a robot modeled after a giant arachnid. It detects movement and scares its onlookers by approaching them.

The robots are classified mainly by function, but some do share the same space and work in tandem.

Zoids
Zoids Leonel Moura

The Zoids, for example, are robot bugs completely dependent on solar energy that will go dormant in the shade. They depend on other robots sharing their space to knock them back into the sun so they can move again.

Protopedis
Protopedis Leonel Moura
Cursovigilo
Cursovigilo Leonel Moura

The Protopedis is attracted to light and will move in the direction of any bright light it detects.

The Cursovigilo are a group of seven robots that follow the movement of anyone or thing that approaches the glass of its cage.

In addition to the robot zoo, this month Moura opened the first art gallery featuring art made exclusively by robot artists. The paintings are made randomly created by robots loaded with paint and left to roam across a canvas.

See below for the robots in action.

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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