Robotarium X is the first zoo dedicated to artificial life
New scientist

Here's something you've never seen before

Please Don't Feed the Gadgets

Lo hanno sperimentato al primo zoo per robot
La Repubblica

Moura created an experimental, futuristic work that constitutes a step forward in the ongoing relation between humans and machines that marks the beginning of the twenty-first century

Our hats are off to Leonel Moura

Daqui a alguns anos vai ser comum ver isto

Ya tengo a donde ir estas vacaciones. ¡Genial!

A video at Youtube

The Robotarium X at Jardim Central (2007), Alverca (Vila Franca de Xira), Portugal, is the first of its kind in the world.

Conceived for a public garden it is constituted by a large glass structure containing 45 robots, most powered by photovoltaic energy and a few plugged to the ceiling or to the ground.

The robots are all original, created specifically for the project, representing 14 species classified by distinct behavior strategies and body morphologies. Obstacle avoidance, movement or sunlight detection and interaction with the public are some of the robots skills.

Robotarium X, the first zoo for artificial life, approaches robots very much in the way as we are used to look at natural life. We, humans, enjoy watching and studying other life forms behavior and, sadly, also to capture them. However, in this case, although the robots are confined to a cage it can be said that, not like animals, they enjoy it. In fact the Robotarium is their ideal environment with plenty of sun, smoothness, tranquility and attention. There are no fights or aggression and the only competition is to assure a place under the sunlight.

Robotarium X is also an art work of a new kind of art that realizes a critical questioning of knowledge and culture. Notions like nature, life, the artificial, machine, art, culture and science, are challenged by this display.


Inspired by the Johnson Solid named 'Bilunabirotunda' the structure is made of steel and glass creating a very transparent environment that allow for a good visibility from the exterior and plenty of sun exposure for the robots.
The space inside is around 22 m2 with 4 meters at its higher point.

The Robots

Two hairy robots able to avoid obstacles and follow the sunlight.

Black, spider-like and hanging from the ceiling the Araneax are the biggest of the inhabitants. When movement is detected outside the cage they come down and do threatening gestures until the visitor goes away.

With a snake-like locomotion and adorned with horns they are able to avoid obstacles.

Very heavy and slow with a body like a shell decorated with feathery motives.

Another couple of robots with horns and sensors to avoid obstacle.

The vigilant of the cage. Distributed all around the site the seven individuals follow with their head anyone that approaches the glass.

They are from the same species but have rather different morphologies. The black moves much faster than the light one and in a funny way. They avoid obstacles.

The head moves independent of the body. Avoid obstacles.

With six feet they avoid obstacles and follow the sunlight.

Very heavy, slow and clumsy individuals are most of the time just gathering enough energy to move. Avoid obstacles.

Trying to follow the sunlight they get very excited and active.

It looks like a big flower with five petals that open but just when it detects many people spread around the glass.

Looking like a mouse they avoid obstacles and walk very fast and in an awkward way.

The smallest residents of the Robotarium were extinct in the first weeks. Several attempts to force evolution didn’t work out.
Very primitive they move by spinning their small tails. The bigger robots can’t detect them and run over cutting the tails and killing them.
See a text about this issue.

Robotarium X is a project of art and science by the artist Leonel Moura funded by The Town Hall of Vila Franca de Xira.

See also the Robotarium SP

and the Insects Robotaria