March of the Robots talk about office ‘bots and flying contraptions

Credit: John Leach
Credit: John Leach

Tomorrow evening (Thursday 10th July) at 7pm Duke Studios will be throwing open its doors to an evening of Pi, Robots and Quadcopters.

Tom Sharp, Creative Director at The Beautiful Meme, will discuss how robotics and technology push him to consider the outer reach of ideas. So much so they’ve teamed up with the University of York to explore co-habiting with a few in the office and John Leach of Brightbox will be talking about how he strapped four large blenders together and gave them autonomy over their own destiny.

John will be revealing details of how to build this arduino-powered quadcopter contraption and how best to defend yourselves against it. He might even share how you make your own…

I think that many of us are used to businesses working with technology but it feels as though both The Beautiful Meme and John are taking it to another level. Keen to find out why and what a Quadcopter might actually be and understand why they’re developing ‘bots, I asked them both a few short questions to find out more.

How do you use technology to develop your ideas and thinking practices?

Tom Sharp: Like an A3 pad and a sharp pencil, technology is just a medium within which to play around with ideas.

How does your work with technology feature in your businesses?

Tom Sharp: We approach playing with technology with a Discordianist spirit. (Our data ‘Happening’ in the Design Museum earlier this year announced ‘Welcome Eris’ at the entrance.) We believe that the act of experimenting with technology without aim or purpose will eventually feed back into our business. Hopefully positively. But even if not, it’ll be interesting.

John Leach: With quadcopters? Not at all!

What is a Quadcopter? Why would you want to co-habit with one?

Tom Sharp: No idea. Probably something that flies with four blades? I would want to live one because they sound fun. Unless it’s actually a dinosaur.

John Leach: It’s an aircraft with four propellers which makes it extremely agile. Coupled with a set of onboard accelerometers and a gps it becomes an autonomous.

I’ve just always been intrigued by flying machines and when multirotor craft started popping up I couldn’t resist building one.

I don’t recommend anyone co-habit with one though, they’re pretty dangerous.

If you could have a ‘bot to do anything for you, what would it do? Are you in the process of trying to make it a reality?

Tom Sharp: We are building a swarm of robots but they don’t really have a purpose. If I could have any robot then I’d quite like Daryl Hannah from Blade Runner. [Daryl Hannah plays the character of Pris – Pris is a ‘basic pleasure model’ robot who is created for entertainment and whilst she is a slave object, she is adept at manipulating the males around her.]

John Leach: I don’t build quadcopters to do things for me, in the standard automation sense. I build them to let me experience something I want to do but can’t: fly!

As you can see, both Tom and John are approaching ‘bot building from different angles (business for Tom and fun for John) yet both of them are keen to explore what experiences ‘bots can provide to allow us to experience something that we might not achieve otherwise.

If you fancy learning more about why you might want to play with making your own ‘bots and wouldn’t mind scoffing a delicious pie from The Sunshine Bakery, sign up on Eventbrite.