Video: Audi loans eight robot arms for art installation

Audi's Outrace Project – Click above to watch the video after the jump

Trafalgar Square is located in central London. It plays host to thousands of people on a daily basis. The square is filled with memorial fountains and allows direct passage to the National gallery, and starting September 16th, it will serve as the backdrop for the London Digital Festival.

Audi has determined this would make a good time to unleash its opening salvo in favor of the impending revolution by Skynet and the robots. The automaker's mechanical beast consists of eight robotic arms and weighs over 10 metric tons. It's known simply as The Octopus. Fine, it's not an octo-armed assault system but rather a new art installation device.

Each arm features a LED headlight taken from the Audi R15 TDI racecar, mounted at the end of each arm. Messages up to 80 characters in length can be sent to octopus from a computer or smartphone via the website, and these bits of text will be chosen at random and written in real time in the form of "light paintings." The images will be captured by SLR cameras and then transferred into a video. The images and video will be available via the Outrace site, as well as sent to the chosen contributors. To see the arms in action, you can view streaming video at both the Outrace site and The footage will be available 24 hours a day, for eight days.

It all sounds quite odd yet intriguing. The big robotic arms will be able to write out letters up to nearly 12 feet high, yet they are capable of precise movements down to 0.2 millimeters. Be sure to watch the trailer after the jump, and read Audi's press release to understand what all the fuss is about. We haven't throw out that Skynet idea just yet...

[Sources: Audi, YouTube]

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Control the octopus

- Eight industrial robotic arms from Audi's production line in Trafalgar Square
- 10.4 metric tons of steel and servomotors can be controlled by smartphone
- Outrace: installation by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram

INGOLSTADT, Germany, Sep 9, 2010 - Like an immense mechanical octopus, the statistics are staggering: eight industrial robotic arms from Audi's production line – weighing some 10.4 metric tons altogether – right in the middle of London's Trafalgar Square. And you can take control of this octopus, whether you use your home computer thousands of kilometers away or your smartphone right in the square. The robots will write your personal text in light traces in the sky; afterwards, you will receive a video of it. This installation will come to life on September 16 when the London Design Festival opens.

Visit to send the robots a message containing no more than 80 characters. LED headlights from the Audi R15 TDI racing car will be mounted at the tips of all eight mechanical tentacles. Weighing 1.3 metric tons each, these eight behemoths will project texts skyward, letter by letter – at heights reaching 3.5 meters yet deviating no more than 0.2 millimeters. High-resolution SLR cameras will capture the resulting "light paintings", which will then be combined to create a video.

"Outrace" is a project by designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram – created specifically for the London Design Festival. The idea of letting the general public directly control a design installation via the Internet is the first of its kind. The same is true of online interactivity. The video messages will be released via the Outrace website and social-media sites (e.g. YouTube), and sent to contributors.

Messages will be chosen at random (language: English) and "written" in real time in Trafalgar Square. A streaming video at and will allow people worldwide to view the light paintings 24 hours a day for eight days.

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