Recently, The Q science channel featured one of their designers who brilliantly constructed a walking bicycle using the same mechanical design developed by Dutch artist Theo Jansen for his Strandbeests. The Strandbeests are a famous set of amazing kinetic sculptures. When the wind is right, the sculptures, made mostly of plastic pipe, appear to walk down the beach using a system of triangles linked together to an axle for legs.
They move so well they almost look alive – hence, “beests.”
Jansen started making his Strandbeests in 1990, and his idea was that they’d “live” in herds on beaches, completely mobile and powered by ocean breezes. He called them artificial intelligence, although they’re not robots. He’s even said he would like for them to evolve to the point they could make decisions and build dunes. He also refers to them animals, though he acknowledges them as machines. After each creature roams the summer away on the beach, it becomes “extinct,” and starts a new life as a museum exhibit.
Videos of the mesmerizing beasts strolling the beach are available to watch online, and you can find instructions on various science sites for how to build your own.
For the walking bicycle, the back wheel was replaced with a specially designed, cut and welded piece (so not made of PVC pipe). This was the same design used in other Standbeests including a walking machine, a walking chair and a Penny Farthing.
It’s entrancing to watch, though maybe not the easiest way to get around.