Since 1990 engineer and sculptor Theo Jensen has set about developing, in his words, “self propelling beach animals.” His hopes are to develop the animals so fully that he will be able to let them loose along the beaches around the world with the ability to fend for themselves indefinitely.
Constructed primarily of PVC electrical tubing, these crablike animals consist of many “organs” with Jensen has created and adapted as needs arise and these creatures become more and more independent. His original design was just the skeleton, which moves by the rotation of a central axle in order to pull along the legs in sequence and “walk” with it’s controller. In order to give the animals independent movement, a sail-like wind-catcher was developed that allowed the Strandbeast to walk when a strong enough breeze could be caught. Not stopping there, the next organ allowed the animal to store energy when winds blew so strongly that an excess was created– accomplished via compressed air in empty soda bottles– giving it movement regardless of the current wind patterns. Now that it’s movement was no longer hindered, the strandbeasts developed a mechanism which drags tubes along the ground constantly sucking in air, this organ can sense when it begins to pull in water and can reverse the direction of the animal in order to prevent it from being destroyed by the tide. The latest addition by Jensen was large sweeping anthers which sense for and large objects to avoid, allowing the creature to avoid a collision. With each reiteration Jensen created a more independent creature in a unique sort of evolution which, he hopes, will soon be complete enough to fend for itself.