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What's "BEAM" Anyway?
Hear what BEAM means to these experienced BEAMers

By Brian O. Bush (

BEAM is a acronym standing for:

               Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics and Mechanics

               The basic principles of BEAM rest on the fact to build smart machines one must first
               build a smart body. Forget the brain, let us just focus on a simple stimulus-response
               based ability within a machine. In it's shortest form is:

                    Use minimalist electronics (keep it simple, reduced parts count)
                    Recycle & Reuse components out of technoscrap
                    Use solar power, if possible

               More elaborately, from the father of BEAM robotics:

                    ...The science behind the idea stems from current concepts in artificial
                    intelligence (AI), artificial life (ALife), evolutionary biology, and genetic
                    algorithms. It seems that building large complex robots hasn't worked
                    well, so why not try to evolve them from a lesser to a greater ability as
                    mother nature has done with biologics? The problem is that such a
                    concept requires self-reproducing robots which won't be possible to build
                    (if at all) for years to come. A solution, however, is to view a human being
                    as a robot's way of making another robot, to have an annual venue where
                    experimenters can let their creations interact in real situations, and then
                    watch as machine evolution occurs. In other words, robogenetics through

                    -Mark W. Tilden

By Dave Hrynkiw:

The BEAM Philosophy of Robotics

In it's shortest form is:

     Use minimalist electronics
     Recycle & Reuse components out of technoscrap
     Solar power it if possible

Why build a robot around these guidelines? Well, because it's inexpensive, robust, effective, and solar power means no
batteries. And since an average BEAM robot costs under $20, it's an excellent way of getting involved with robotics.

Don't think that just because BEAM robots are electronically simpler than your average wristwatch that they aren't capable -
they ARE. Robots as complicated as 8-jointed, 4-legged walking spiders have been built using the principles of BEAM. The
simplest of BEAM robots can be constructed around a two transistor circuit called the Solarengine, which ingests light and
turns it into bursts of movement at the frequency of anywhere from 4 bursts a second to a burst a day, depending how you
configure it.

BEAM is a acronym standing for: Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, Mechanics
Why? Well, lets break it down.


We look to Mother nature for inspiration, keeping in mind that she didn't have some of the techniques we have available, like
wheels, bearings and some really killer glues.


This is kind of on the obvious side, as what else is available to us other than microsurgery on living organisms to get them to do
what we want? And since nobody likes to have the SPCA on their case, electronics fits the bill just fine!


Aesthetics means looks cool. Sure, something crappy may work, but it's worth the extra effort to get it as nice as can be. You
never see a forest critter roaming around with a leg duct-taped on, do you?


This is the secret of many successful BEAMbots. With a clever design, you don't require additional sensors. That's exactly how
SYMET robots get around without optical or touch switches.

By Andrew Miller:

BEAM robotics is the only Science/Discipline that I know
             of in which creative cheating is encouraged.

To Me this is enough to make it interesting, but there are more reasons for
involving yourself in the flexible dynamic world of Biomorphic Robotics. In a
world that is continues to become more and more processor dominated
many robotically inclined folks have dismissed the simple solutions of body
instead to favour the solutions of brain. This often leads to Really smart
things that can't walk, this is where BEAM comes in.

BEAM means several things......

The most important is that Nothing is too simple to accomplish the job" .
Smaller, dumber, cheaper is just as valid as bigger, smarter, costlier.

I've been building what my mother refers to as kakamaimies for 20 years
and in pretty much every case I've done it just to prove I could. This is an
attitude that is Strongly encouraged in BEAM.

I live by two rules.

  Rip everything you own completely apart.
  NEVER put them back together in the same fashion.

Combine these with Tilden's Laws of robotics....

  Protect They Ass
  Feed They Ass
  Look For Better Real Estate

And BOOM successful devices, Robotic or otherwise.....

* Note: These are all very important things to keep in mind but don't stress out too much about the meaning of "BEAM" and never be afraid to challenge it or push the limits. And above all, HAVE FUN!