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Design

Introducing Pixelbots, Robotic LEDs That Swarm Together To Tell The Story Of The Universe

As the name suggests, Pixelbots are a cross between an animated robot and a pixel, yielding some crazy animation possibilities.

by Beckett Mufson
02 April 2014, 4:30pm

Forget stock-still pixels (so boring!)—meet Pixelbot, a two-wheeled robot with an LED display that has mobile capabilities, yielding a colorful, active pixel that can be used for some innovative storytelling. When one Pixelbot is paired with several brethren, a swarm of kinetic LEDs forms that can be used for some unbelievable animation. 

Together, Pixelbots can form shapes, designs, and thus stories, which is exactly what the inventors at Disney Research Zurich used these whirring bots for in the above video. The brief tale, entitled The Story of the Universe, is just a test of what this animated robot swarm is capable of. From pre-universe chaos, to the Big Bang, through the age of dinosaurs, all the way through the dawn of humanity, the Pixelbots are like tiny windows into the future of cartoons and animation.

This project is a result of collaboration between Disney Research Zurich and ETH Zurich, a robotics lab that focuses on autonomous systems. "It's a whole new way of looking at cartoon images and animations," say the creators. "These are 'Pixels with Personality.'"

While the LED-enabled Roomba was pretty wild, these Pixelbots are clearly in the running for our favorite art-enabled wheelie robots of the week.

h/t IEEE

Tagged:
Animation
light art
robot
LED
disney
Display
screen
Pixelbot
Pixelbots
story of the universe