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CYBUG A.L.T. ( Artificial Life-form Testbed )

The CYBUG 1 is a new, exciting type of educational kit. It combined elements of electronics, robotics, mechanics, and biology in a unique and interesting form. It's instructional, very easy to build, and fun to modify and customize.

The operating CYBUG behaves as a living organism, with behavior and instinct designed in it's circuitry. The robo-organism is nocturnal ( most active at night ) and can be configured to be photo-tropic ( light seeking ) or photo-phobic ( light avoiding ). A quick adjustment of the potentiometer causes the CYBUG to behave aggressively as a predator, or timid and slow moving like a herbivore. No two CYBUG;s are exactly the same and you will come to recognize the unique characteristics of each!

One of the most interesting characteristics of the CYBUG is it's ability to seek out it's own food source and energize itself. Just as a honeybee is attracted to a flower for it's nectar, the CYBUG is drawn to the light of the SUN-FLOWER, where it is provided with a meal of raw energy ( which it charges it's batteries with! )

The CYBUG is just one member of a new robotic ecosystem which parallels nature in a unique and fascinating manner while educating it's owners in fundamentals of electronics, robotics, biology, and control systems.

"Cybology 30"

In order to behave more naturally in a "human" world, instincts hard-wired into a simple robotic platform allows the CYBUG to demonstrate many emergent behaviors. The following graphic demonstrates the simularties between a CYBUG and the more conventional insect.

Care and Feeding of the CYBUG.

The CYBUG may be pre-set to be permanently photo-tropic OR permanently photophobic using a set of jumpers located at the base of it's head. When photo-tropic, the CYBUG will be attracted to the light from a SUN-FLOWER or similar feeding station..


The sunflower may be as simple as this artificial plant ( Artificial plants for artificial lifeforms.. makes sense to me! ).

The positive charging voltage ( typically 9-14V ) is applied to the metallic aluminum leaves located about 6 inches up the plant. The leaves are actually recycled aluminum bake-pans.

The large tin-foil sheet taped to the ground is… well… ground!


Above we see the feeding CYBUG as it moves toward the plant. The CYBUG has two long thin guitar-string antennae extending up from it's head which make contact with the SUNFLOWERS leaves and couple the energy into it's on-board batteries.

What doesn't show up quite so clearly is the two other guitar string feelers which are dragging on the ground and are connected to the negative pole of the nicad battery or capacitor.

Since the CYBUG is naturally nocturnal, the light of the SUNFLOWER calms the lifeform, slowing in down so that it may gather a better charge.

Feeding Trough

While the sunflower makes a nice, light ( no pun intended… maybe )snack they don't always give the CYBUG's a good full charge since the little fella's like to move in and out from it. For this reason, several SUNFLOWERS are typically required to keep the CYBUG's really charged!

A Feeding trough, however, will charge several CYBUG's at once, and give them all a good long lunch. The above feeding trough is simply a plastic storage bin inverted with one wall cut out. There is an aluminum floor, an aluminum roof, and a small automotive-grade light bulb to draw in the CYBUG's. The roof plate is charged positive by an adapter ( or more appropriately, a solar cell array ), and the floor is ground. When the CYBUG's move inside the enclosure, they calm down significantly and will stay inside for extended periods of time.

Although I have run out of time tonight, I will show you how to set up the CYBUG's hunger mechanism which causes the CYBUG's to become light avoiding when they are fully charged. This will cause them to scurry out of the trough or SUNFLOWER and move to the safety of the darkness. What is there to be afraid of? How about…

Robotic Predators!

This photo shows an emerging CYBUG herbivore leaving his trough, all fat and tasty!

( Note he has what I call a solarback on him. This solar array helps keep him topped up in energy when he is in the sun, but will not maintain him indefinitely. He is too high-energy a lifeform )

He is confronted by two experimental predators which seek to gain access to his on-board energy. These predators can be attracted to the herbivore by infra-red lights in the herbivores abdomen, rather like a heat signature. I have found, though, some success with using a bright light in the herbivores abdomen with a polarizing filter attached and aligned with polarizing filters on the predators eyes.

Predator and Prey

Now this little herbivore is in trouble. This predator is using experimental forward facing proboscis to couple onto the herbivores rear-mounted battery posts. There is still a good degree of experimenting to do in designing the perfect coupling mechanism, but the tracking mechanism seems to work quite well. Although the herbivore is more difficult to feed off of than the SUNFLOWER, the energy which could be gained from the herbivore is much greater!