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e-David: A Painting Robot That Can Even Sign Its Own Name

This painting machine can use five different brushes, knows how to clean them, and chooses from a palette of 24 different colors.

The human hand has been painting pictures for millennia, and over that time we've evolved techniques and invented various styles and movements. And now that evolution has brought us to program machines to paint just like us. The e-David is a robotic arm that doesn't just paint abstract forms, but picks up a paintbrush to create portraits and even signs its own name.

It uses "visual optimisation" to create the paintings so that it "watches itself while painting and decides independently where to add new strokes." After taking a picture of what it's going to copy it then processes it through its software so it can figure out where to add shade or light according to the image.


"We equipped a standard robot with all necessary means for painting." says the team behind it. "Five different brushes can be used, color can be selected from a repository with 24 colors, brushes can be cleaned and colors can be distributed precisely on the canvas." You can count it as another addition to the medium of programmed robotic art, like Harvey Moon's drawing machines and Patrick Tresset's sketching robots.

As well as the results, what's equally fascinating is watching the way it's been programmed to delicately dip the brush in the paint or tap the brush tip on the side of a bowl to get off excess water. Even though physically its very much a machine, those subtle movements give it a little more personality and humanity.