Glowing Robotic Tentacles Interact with Visitors at French Petting Zoo
These robotic creatures change behavior based on their interactions with visitors.
By Leslie Katz, CNET - Filed Sep 18, 2013

If you swing by the Petting Zoo in Orleans, France, don't expect to see goats. The robotic "pets" that reside there hang from the ceiling, glowing like so many "Tron" worms.

The neon-lit creatures in this "artificial animalistic environment" by experimental architecture and design firm Minimaforms change behavior according to their interactions with visitors.

Stephen and Theodore Spyropoulos, the brothers who founded Minimaforms, might call their pets "robotically enabled agents," but before long, their attributes start to look lifelike.

Using motion-tracking cameras and data scanning, they sway in the direction of observers, move toward or away from their touch, and change colors (red, apparently, means anger; do not anger the wiggling robotic tentacles!). Inactive observers can even stimulate disinterested, bored responses from the writhe-prone creatures.

The project, like others by Minimaforms, explores behavior-based design systems. It's currently on display at the Frac Centre for contemporary art, which is inaugurating a new building with ArchiLab, an exhibit that combines nature and architecture.

"Interaction with the pets fosters human curiosity, play, forging intimate exchanges that are emotive, evolving over time, and enabling communication between people and their environment," reads a description of Petting Zoo on Vimeo.

Just don't get too attached to the not-so-little critters. They have yet to be housebroken and they never, ever sleep.

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