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ICRA 2023



Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen

Artist, Strandbeest


The beach animals' special way of walking is that they do not bounce up and down while walking. This has to do with the ratio of the lengths of the tubes in the leg system. In 1990, Theo wrote a genetic algorithm on a Atari computer that produced thirteen magic numbers that determined the lengths of those tubes. The beach animals therefore run on a ratio of numbers. You can think of it as the DNA code of the beasts. Those numbers went viral and since then hundreds if not thousands of beach animals have been made by students, hobby clubs and schools.

Furthermore, the beasts have a kind of nerve system that is based on stored wind energy in PET bottles. The undulating wings force air into the bottles and you can see those bottles as the wind stomach of the beast. With that energy, nerve cells, senses and muscles can be activated. That will eventually culminate in a kind of brain.


Since 1990, artist Theo Jansen has been engaged in creating new forms of life. The primal material of its nature is not protein as in existing nature, but yellow PVC conduit. He makes skeletons that can walk. Those are some kind of beasts. They get their energy from the wind; so they don't need to eat. Over time, an evolution has taken place, which is visible in successive generations. Ultimately, he wants to release these animals on the beaches, where they will lead a life of their own.