Maker Faire

Flock of Whale Blimps

Type: Maker Table/Exhibit
Program Area: Electronics

Day/Time: Saturday and Sunday

Location: Fiesta Hall

Autonomous Light Air Vessels (ALAVs) are 3 flying objects (Bubba, Flipper, and Habib) that exist in a networked environment and communicate through assigned behaviors forming three scenarios: ALAV with a person, ALAV with other ALAVs, and ALAV alone. They are part of a networked system that emphasize autonomous and flocking behavior. The ALAVs have an algorithm that defines how they roam in search of people or food.

They are autonomous with respect to their decision-making process; they determine their path by controlling directional motors. Sometimes one strays from the flock. However, if after two minutes an ALAV has not interacted with anything, it makes a noise. This call is made by a cell phone vibrator ressonating on their helium envelope.

When not on the prowl for food, they constantly seek each other, yearning for attention. They don't deny that desire when they do happen to stumble across one another. They exhibit a playful exchange, a dance of flock recognition and camaraderie, a fluttering embrace. A reassuring resonating chirp, a grateful reply. Whinin close proximity, the ALAVs recognize another's presence and commence a flocking behavior. The behavior consists of ALAVs (2 or 3) spinning together and calling back and fourth between each other. The flocking behavior remains active for 30 seconds, or until the ALAVs drift apart.

We represent flocking as both near and distant spacial relationships, since an ALAV is aware of the rest of its flock even when not in close proximity. The ALAVs interact with people by feeding when they come into close range of food. Their hunger level is indicated by their hanging LED. If it is blue, people can approach them with food and they will feed. If it is red, they are full and will not respond when approached. The feeding is activated when a person holding the food approaches an ALAV. You get its attention when it stops its current behavior and flutters its motors (cycling through them twice). It will feed for ten seconds as long as the food remains close.

Related site: http://www.alavs.com

Photo

Presented by

Jed Berk
ALAVs
Art Center College of Design

The ALAVs project was a collaborative effort between Jed Berk and Nikhil Mitter. They are currently second year students in the Graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. They both have media/fine arts background but come from very different areas, Jed growing up in Maine and Nikhil from Dubai. They hope to grow the flock while refining there shepherding skills.

Jed Berk is a MFA candidate in the Media Design Program at the Art Center College of Design. He received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Referring to his creative pursuits as "co inhabiting with others," Jed's work exists between the intersection of art, design and emerging technologies. His work often builds upon making semi-domesticated, biologically inspired objects that live in a networked-based ecosystem.

Nikhil Mitter is currently a second year student in the Graduate Media Design Program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Prior to attending Art Center he lived in Dubai, and later received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. Future design research initiatives and directions hope to explore networked awareness - a relationship between the individual and collective.