Wild Robot Coy-B



The Wild Robot Coy-B project (unrealised) involves a robot designed for a performance art experiment in human-robot interaction loosely based on Joseph Beuys’ I Like America and America Likes Me (1974) where the German artist shared a gallery space in New York for several days with a wild coyote (photo top left, credit Caroline Tisdall).

Wild Robot Coy-B will feature in a series of durational performances for an autonomous mobile robot and a human, where the robot will take the role occupied by the coyote in Beuys’ piece. Diametrically opposed to the coyote who symbolised a natural instinctual dimension, the Coy-B robot is a representative of contemporary techno-scientific achievements, a fully artificial creature.




Coy-B‘s ancestor is the Biting Machine, a simple mobile machine with teeth created in collaboration with Japanese artist Kanta Horio in 2009.


2007: original idea


2009: meeting at EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, Lausanne Switzerland about possible collaboration to bring the project to life. Dead-end abruptly reached when the director realises that the robot might bite a human, which would bring negative publicity to the lab and robotics in general. Terminator syndrom bad.


2011: a small research fund from Cardiff School of Art and Design buys a week with programmer Alex May. We experiment with a prototype for testing human recognition using a Kinect sensor and an onboard Linux machine. Not fully convincing despite some good results at coloured ball following.


2013: After presenting at the TAROS conference, I met Grzegorz Cielniak, a robotic scientist from Lincoln University’s Centre for Autonomous Systems. He was interested in a collaborative development of the project. We were shorlisted for a Leverhulme Research Grant, but unfortunately our application did not make the final selection in 2015. Since then, Wild Robot Coy-B is in the projects freezer, waiting for the big thaw.


I presented Wild Robot Coy-B project at the ISEA conference in Sydney in June 2013. The paper is available here.