'Machina Speculatrix'
Grey Walter's electromechanical 'Tortoise'
—the beginnings of Robotics...


These little machines were an early investigation of "Artificial Life". They were phototropic — i.e. they would notice any moderate light source in their vicinity and move toward it. Brighter lights they would avoid — until their batteries were running low, at which point they would find the brighter light on their 'feeding hutch' suddenly attractive!

The University of the West of England used to have much more about the creatures on its website, but that page has gone. Fortunately the Wayback Machine has preserved it here:
The Grey Walter Online Archive [Thanks to the folks at UWE for finding this for me]

Another link I used to have on this page has also died, but I suggest a google search for "Grey-Walter Tortoise" or some such to find some of the interesting stuff on the creatures currently available on the web.

Half a century later, by the way, a reconstructed tortoise performed in the Millennium Dome at Greenwich. It is now on display at the Science Museum in London.


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