BEAM bots with complex behaviors

Robotics Technology
BEAM bots with complex behaviors

I just realized that Bruce Robinson’s impressive analog robots have not been blogged here on MAKE. His articles on “The Application of Human Motor Control Theory to Robotics” and “Learning Robots” blew my mind when I first read them years ago. People are always asking me how far BEAM concepts can be taken. I point them to these articles, Bruce’s robot experiments, and to the Wow Wee robot family (designed by BEAM inventor Mark Tilden), which employ many BEAM concepts. “Learning Robots” describes how short and long-term memory can be created using all-analog components. It’s a shame he hasn’t updated the site in years. He seemed to be interested in really pushing the envelope on analog control.

Robinson’s Hider robot (seen here) demonstrates two behaviors (light seeking and “fear” — running away from loud sounds), using nine sensor elements. In his work with BEAM tech, Robinson even came up with his own First Law of Robotics: “The capability for complex behaviour is limited by the number of sensors.”

A Dissident’s View of Robotics (a.k.a. Robinson’s Robots) – Link
Hider – Link


  • HOW TO – Build BEAM Vibrobots – Link
  • Solarbotics – Link.
  • A Beginner’s Guide to BEAM – Link.
  • BEAM robot – flashing eyes – Link.

From the pages of MAKE:
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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

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