Autonomous Light-Air Vessels

ALAVs, by Jed Berk and Nikhil Mitter, are 3 flocking blimps (Bubba, Flipper, and Habib) which continuously search for networked activities in their environment. Each piece of information they pick up from the networked environment triggers certain actions like: propelling the vessel, transmitting a sound, lighting blue or red.


Each ALAV has little lights that indicate its hunger level. Blue means hungry. Red means full. People can “feed” the blimp by holding out a plant-like structure to it. The embedded sensor transmits info to the ALAV (successful feeding makes the plant vibrate.) The AVAL quickly “digests” the information and then moves on.

Due to their unpredictable roaming behavior, ALAVs might occasionally stray from the flock. However, an ALAV cannot remain far away for long for it is constantly seeking out companionship. They find this via communication with their outside environment (mobile phones, laptops, sensors, other ALAVs.) This information in turn helps them make decisions, choosing directions to propel into. Besides, when an ALAV strays too far away for too long, its flock calls out to it with an animal-like chirp, or calling sound.

The ALAV exhibit behaviors that relate to semi-domesticated animals (through their calling sounds, and the way they nudge people.)

The importance of this system is about using the technology’s unpredictability and limitations to the advantage of the design.

PDF of the project and plenty of videos.

Via the new ecology of things del.icious.

Related: Powermoon, the Mascarillons.