By Evan Ackerman
These helium blimps, nicknamed “Blubber Bots,” are fully autonomous robots that gracefully float from place to place, searching for food ( represented as LED lights) and companionship. Created by Jed Berk, the fat and happy form factors of these ALAVs (Autonomous Lighter than Air Vehicles) belies the hardcore wireless brains that are slung beneath them. Their blimp brains are powered by Sun SPOT chips, which are able to sense and react to movement, sounds, lights, and heat. In addition to being equipped with blinking LEDs themselves, they have cell phone vibrators attached to their helium envelopes, and when the vibrators go off, the blimp resonates at a specific frequency, allowing it to “talk” to other blimps, and to you. That’s right, besides interacting autonomously with each other, the blimps are able to socialize with humans via cellphones. You can chose to talk to the blimps as individuals or as a group, and based on your actions, they’ll react with different behaviors. Check out the video to see what I’m talking about:
If you happen to be in the LA area, you can sign up to make your own Blubber Bot (with the help of the designer) for $185.