BEAM FAQ

What is this BEAM stuff anyways? Where did it come from?

In 1989, Mark Tilden invented the techniques of BEAM Robotics which combines simple, robust electronics with clever mechanics (and frequently solar power) to produce capable, autonomous robots. BEAM is an acronym Mr. Tilden built from the words Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, and Mechanics.

Biology

We look to nature for inspiration, and see if there's a spin we can put on it that makes the inspiration work in a robot. Simple, tiny brains govern the actions of many, many prolific and capable insects, and we try to use similar design elements in our own BEAM robots.

Electronics

This is about appropriate electronics. Where digital microcontrollers rule the actions of most robot designs, we like to explore the ancient mystical ways of analog and minimalist electronics. BEAMers are notorious for taking a chip, and twisting it into doing new and novel thing that it wasn't ever meant to do - often with surprisingly good results!

Aesthetics

Not a word used often! It refers to the degree of pleasantness an object has to the eye. A sports car is aesthetically pleasing. An ocean sunset is aesthetically pleasing. A pile of dog-doo is aesthetically repulsive. The point to including this word as a design element is in how a robot is finished. A clean, well-built robot with a protective shell will survive in its environment better than a robot with loose motor mounts and wires strung all over the place where they can be snagged and yanked loose. Looking cool counts!

Mechanics

Clever mechanics can take care of huge design problems. Adding more code, or more sensors to a robot doesn't matter, if the robot's design places the sensors in the wrong place to start with. Good mechanics means your robot should be more than an inverted trashcan with wheels.

The net result of this design philosophy is a robot-building technology that is often cheaper, more robust, and quicker to build than traditional methods. This in turn has brought robotics to a great many hobbyists, educators, and researchers that would have otherwise gone without. We're proud to say we've been able to supply thousands of students with robot-building experiences they would have not been able to have. We give hobbyists the ability to build their own walking robots without the need of a programming environment or host computer.

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