Two years ago I was very impressed when I read about the amazing work of the Dutch artist Theo Jansen. In the last 16 years he has been working on those incredible kinetic sculptures, the strandbeest (Beach Creatures). They are built to move and survive on their own.
His newest creatures walk without assistance on the beaches of Holland, powered by wind, captured by gossamer wings that flap and pump air into old lemonade bottles that in turn power the creatures’ many plastic spindly legs. The walking sculptures look alive as they move, each leg articulating in such a way that the body is steady and level. They even incorporate primitive logic gates that are used to reverse the machine’s direction if it senses dangerous water or loose sand where it might get stuck.
Jansen was a speaker in the last TED, showing how those creatures are created, move and can survive in the beaches for generations. The video of his talk is available on TED and you can watch it below too (8 min plus ads). BTW, there is a documentary in production about his work and its weblog.