Summary Haiku robots combines the movement intelligence of robots with sensors and custom software, the result being live text generation. The robots literally send numbers to the computer, based on their changing location at the boundary of the project space. Numbers can be converted to text, just a phone does. Over time, word lists are generated and these are searched through for strings of words that can be construed as poetry. To view a short documentary type video on the work go to https://vimeo.com/37096905.
How it works Two autonomous robotic cars move in a space defined by 8 cylinders, which also function as an electronic fence. When a robot approaches a cylinder, the two recognise each other and a signal is sent to the project computer. The cylinders are allocated phone pad numbers 2abc, 3def etc. Consequently the signal sent is a number, and over time this a string of numbers. The project computer runs a predictive text and spell check regime and words result. Searching the word list results in the discovery of robot poems or hybrid haiku. The sample poems are in exactly the same word order and grouping as they emerged. Once the project is switched on, no further human intervention is made - it is all movement trajectory and software. The project aimed to set up a small scale interactive or cybernetic system, as a way of solving the problem of getting robots to write poetry.
The only thing the robots are programmed to do is go forward, go backwards, turn left turn right and detect an infra red signal. The signal prevents the robots from escaping the electronic fence provided by the cylinders. If the IR signal strength is within certain parameters, the robot send a signal to the project computer, which is the number allocated to the cylinder detected.
While programmed to go backwards and forwards, turn left and right, bumping into eachother randomises the paths of the robots, which is an import function. consequently the resultant course taken by the robots each is different, and therefore each day's output is different.
Conception, visualisation and design: Ian M Clothier
Custom electronics: Andrew Hornblow
Customised software: Julian Priest
Installation: Daryl Egarr