stanza robotica

About the Installation.

Robotica is an installation by Stanzamade in 2004 using controlled autonomous players, robots that navigate their own space to make music and visuals. As they move around they trigger a database of sounds which are played dependent on the position in space. The movement of the robots also controls live dynamic data from the outside of the city to create the visuals. Live web feeds from around the city are projected into the installation space, via a series of projectors. These images are live real time live updated 3d models which are controlled by the movement of the robot.

Stanza art work of map on the floor for the robot to navigate
Image of cut up map of Bristol for path following

The robot wanders around a large black and white map on the floor. It triggers position sounds and coded 3d via ultrasound in the room and in the robot. The robot is in line following mode navigating the space; essentially it is playing the sounds as it moves about and controlling the projectors.The installation acts as a simulated real space re-representing a data mesh of Bristol.

The concept of the robot performance involves using 'cybots' in avoidance mode and path following mode to make music and visual systems. The robots wander about and follow maps of Bristol and trigger sound and visual data. They act as the musicians navigating and interacting with one another. The whole robot performance can be monitored on the public 'cctv' and is broadcast to the internet using a 'quicktime' server.This TV system takes the 'inside outside', broadcast in real time.

These images are live real time live updated 3d models which are controlled by the movement of the robot
Image of installation

I have also extended my CCITYV software which acquires open streamed images from around Bristol. Most are traffic cams but it is interesting to see the landscape for what it is. These images are presented into a 3d morphing model and the images are always changing and always evolving. It becomes a never ending film online for a very long time extending in real time. Therefore the robots can wander around with their cameras on and they act like a roving CCTV network gathering information sending it to an online server.

The robot wanders around a large black and white map on the floor.
Image of robot on map

The first version involving tracking in the space following the map and triggering the audio visual system was implemented on June 4th 2004. The idea is to get six robots and they will make a symphony. The final version will use 100 robots that can be remote controlled via the web. When this version is complete it will act like an autonous cctv network. Gathering images about the environment which are then projected into the space as a giant installation.


The installation space has an ultrasounds rig to control the positional data of the devices. This ultrasound system is designed and built by Cliff Randell which is in place and tested, it is configured to the room the Watershed Open wireless network. The general idea involves using a Hewlett Packard PDA running the Mobile Bristol client. If you then move around the room the position is tracked via the ultrasound system which is attached to the ceiling. This sends data to the 'elvin' servers, and using an 'elvin' extra, this information can be used to create a visual response, using Director. My intention is to extend the system using all sorts of sensing equipment.

Image of cctv view or room. This is the view broadcast to internet
Image of cctv view or room. This is the view broadcast to internet

Image of robot and sensors with wireless camera
Image of robot and sensors with wireless camera

Future developments include.

A. The robot will to respond to voice recognition to the navigate maps. These spoken directions come from user uploads typed in to the map database.

B. The robot at certain times will be also controllable via the web to navigate the space. So instead of operating in path following mode they can work in remote control mode.

C. Multi robot event using up to one hundred robots in a huge space. Some controlled via the web, some on path following mode, some taking directions of pdas. I am looking for a large veue to adapt this robot piece to. The Watershed is collaborating in a finding venues and we have thought of Urbis and The Tate Britain.

D. Take robots outside controlled via remote control via Bluetooth in mobile phones. They can wander around with their own cameras and they act like a roving CCTV network gathering information sending it to an online server.







This whole project is available for workshops or for commission based development.

Project ideas and developments.

a. Adapt motes and GPS on robots for position in space instead of the ultrasound rig. (Analysis of their position in space)
b.Use robots to make drawings on space and loose at chance and randomness based on movement. ( Playful experiments with the cybot)
c.Program them to try to develop music via proximity. (Robots orchestra or rock band)
d.Motion and position tracking system via camera tracking in space. (Recording their position and making drawings in space)
e.Redecorate them and give them personalities and sex. (Give them some identity)
The robots can follow a line so cities can be made that the robots can navigate. (Create an environment for them to monitor)
f. Light show. Create a light show in the sky the robots will follow the lights it will probably drive them crazy.



Using simple robots top make art. The outcomes or playful experimentation, hacking and ‘moding’ the robots, lead to additional and often suprising results. By adding and developing the technology a whole series of creative possibilities can arise. These projects aren’t really about the development or science of robots but their uses for creative and artistic endeavour.

Development history

Previous projects see Robotica and The Mating Game.



Cybots can seek or avoid light, follows object and follows a line.

Cybot has top speed of 3.8 m/h. Its can climb a gradient of 1 in 4 and rotate through 360 degrees. Cybot is programmable and can operate via remote control.

Antennae LEDS light up when Cybot sees something. Light sensors, are wider than the ultrasonic sensors.  Cybot two light sensors, the ones at lower front at sides.  The ultrasonic sonar sensors are at the front bottom and are close together detects solid objects, ie so that it can avoid things up close or follow them. Ultrasound sends and receives high frequency high pitched sounds that cannot be heard the pulses hit obstacles and are bounced back. Sonar processor board on main robot, this chip handles the data from then sensors. This processor analyses the echo patterns and converts the data into the steering commands.

Piezo speaker is in the top dome area.
Line following sensor under the robots itself.
The red switch box inside cybot sets up different controls.
Voice recognition processor. With voice commands such as Stop, Left, Track Line, Seek Light, Run Around.
Voice recognition Board. The Handset also o needs a voice recognition chip.

Creating programs: Issue 38, issues 46, 64  for writing programs.

Histories of Robots.

The original Cybot was called dwarf from Reading University. A robot is something that can do an automated task. Google  Proffesor Kevin Warwick for more information.

Work on machines intelligence began in 1940’s and was led by people like Alan Turing. Colossus the first ever working computer developed for The WWW 2 to try to crack the ‘enigma’ code machines that the Germans used for communication. In 1956 the term artificial intelligence was coined by John McCarthy from MIT.   Marvin Minksy also from MIT said, “the science of making machines do things that require intelligence if done by men”.

Walking robots such as WABOT 1 or SONY SDR 3 both humanoid robots. These have motion sensors to detect portion movement etc.

Machines  as spies. The Lockhead Martin MicroStar is 15 cm long. It allows troops to see surrounding from the air without risk.  Also see Lockhead Martin DarkStar, autonomous planes for global spying from the air.

Pipe prowler robotic gas pipe explorer with camera.

Other robots.  ( my favourites)

Lego Mindstorm.
Sony AIBO dog.  Version four ERS 220.
Miyato Jiro. Art walking robot of businessman crawling.
Camcopter. A surveillance helicopter.
Robotuna. Udner water fish robot.
Aquariods by Takara.
Attila by Rodney Brooks.
Asimo by Honda

Films with Robots

Star Wars.
Star Trek



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