Chinese retiree builds robotic horse. Inspired by an invention of Three Kingdoms-era chancellor Zhuge Liang, Chinese inventor Su Daocheng spent two months building a petrol-powered rideable robotic horse.
The mechanical artwork of metalsmith and jewelry-maker Dukno Yoon simulate the flapping of wings through the simple swish of a finger, or powered by metronome. Artist's Series, youtube
My sculptures are invented only to sustain themselves, functioning as self-resolving problems. The result is an object that has been invented only to compensate for the complications created by its own existence. The piece alone represents the need and the resolution.Dan Grayber's mechanical contraptions
Justin Gershenson-Gates makes insects and spiders from mechanical watch parts. The Verge shows more pictures including one of a piece under construction, more photos are on Inhabitat, there are yet more photos at Twisted Sifter, and the artist has a personal website.
Their hearts are not hearts, but clockwork springs. Their lungs are not lungs, but leather bellows. They are: Jack Donovan's Princely Toys [more inside]
Engineering question: say you only had one generator with multiple places that needed power in real time. How to get power to them? Caveat: do it mechanically with no electricity. Low Tech Magazine brings you the Jerker Line System and the Stangenkunst, for all your post-apocalyptic / steam punk power distribution needs. Some are still in operation: Jerkerline Field wheel near Oil Springs Ontario (video), and Oklahoma (video).
120 years ago, in Paris, Blaise Bontems made a mechanism for reproducing birdsong. More recently, Michael Start restored it to working condition and recorded a video. [more inside]
The kinetic sculptures of Anne Lilly.
The Automata Blog is packed full of interesting images, videos and information about all kinds of amazing automata, cool machines, mechanical music, orchestrions and kinetic sculptures. This month's focus is the history of vintage Japanese tin toy robots and the toy robot paintings by Steven Skollar.
Karakuri ningyō (からくり人形?) are mechanized puppets or automata from Japan from the 17th century to 19th century. There are many beautiful examples: Arrow shooting, serving tea, the geisha, acrobatics, making magic. [more inside]
Steve Durnin's D-Drive is a fascinating new infinitely-variable transmission that doesn't use friction components or a clutch of any kind. Video of a prototype with detailed explanations is included.
I've never really had a clear understanding of how mechanical computing worked, until today when I watched these US Navy training films from 1953. Part 1 focuses on shafts, gears, cams and differentials. Part 2 explains mechanical component solvers, integrators and multipliers. More information about ship gun fire-control systems here.
Sir George Julius's Automatic Totalisator, first used by the public in New Zealand, and quickly taken up by racetracks throughout Australasia and North America (warning hideous HTML), automates parimutuel betting.
"..watched him seize a silver fish from under the water and hold up his head and go through the customary and elaborate motions of swallowing it..."
The Silver Swan is a life-size musical automaton built in 1773 from silver and glass, now housed in the Bowes Museum in County Durham. [more inside]
In Vestimentis Ursum. Designer Matt Kirkland peels off the fur of mechanized stuffed animals to take a look at the robots lurking within.
Are you fairly handy? Well how about theoretically handy? Take this test to find out how mechanically apt you are. [more inside]
The X Finger a prosthetic for digital amputees.
Karakuri automata are representative of the highest technology in the Edo period (1603 to 1867). Automata were also crafted hundreds of years ago in Europe: The Dulcimer Player by Pierre Kintzing , made in 1772; The Singing Lesson, created by Robert-Houdin; three androids by Jaquet-Droz; the Pooping Duck by Vaucanson (the first link at the top). Ancient robots. The first automaton was created by Al-Jazari: video of his clock. The history of automata [pdf]. Contemporary toy automata. [more inside]
An' all the hot cats on the block have been doing it too - c'mon now, honey, I wanna do it with you. Anyone hoping to build their own Death Probe without dismantling the vaccum cleaner or floor waxer can rejoice. The creators of Roomba and Scooba have released a barebones version. Add-on software from Microsoft is available, should more ambitious types decide to pair iRobot's tech with LEGO MindStorms pieces.
Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it. In 1769, Hungarian nobleman Wolfgang von Kempelen astonished Europe by building a mechanical chess-playing automaton that defeated nearly every opponent it faced. A life-sized wooden mannequin, adorned with a fur-trimmed robe and a turban, Kempelen’s "Turk" was seated behind a cabinet and toured Europe confounding such brilliant challengers as Benjamin Franklin and Napoleon Bonaparte. Excuse me? Ah, yes. The Mechanical Turk, by Amazon.
Really, really nice... lots of lovely devices...