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Hektor: the Graffiti Robot 222

Lopex writes "Gizmodo has a story about Hektor, a graffiti robot. Apparently it is for the extremely geeky (or perhaps extremely lazy) tagger. has photos, information (pdf), and a movie (15 Mb) of it in action."
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Hektor: the Graffiti Robot

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  • I think the inventor of this has been watching Time Cop way way too much
  • Another (awful) movie with graffiti robots.
  • I saw this (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:18PM (#8125601) Homepage Journal
    Many moons ago (at least a couple of years I think) on the discovery channel, or similar. But they were showing it off as an abstract artist. I think the idea behind that is any monkey can construct a robot to "trace" a digital image. It would just be an oversized printer.
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by flewp ( 458359 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:18PM (#8125603)
    Hektor really needs to learn some can control. Look at that drip!

    He also lacks style, but at least it's not just giant bubble letters.
    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Informative)

      by dAzED1 ( 33635 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:21PM (#8125638) Journal
      I know you're just being silly, but it looked to me like the can was very controlled. There were fine details that lacked any drip. The drip that did exist looked pretty intentional.

      Look over the pictures again. Any picture that shows drip will show plenty of areas with none. There are also other pictures with no drip at all.

      • Re:Wow (Score:3, Informative)

        by lhand ( 30548 )
        How about RTFpdf? The drips were actually painted, they're not drips at all. Although they did get drips on some of their testing, the big "drips" in that image were purely intentional.

        I want one.
        • How about GAFSOH (get a fucking sense of humor)?

          On a side note, I was going to try and bring a Simpsons reference into it from the episode where they goto Shelbyville to get the lemon tree and the Shelbyville kids comment on Bart's excellent can control, but I couldn't figure out a way to make it both funny and have people catch the reference.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:29PM (#8125740) Homepage Journal
      "Hektor really needs to learn some can control. Look at that drip!"

      There are a lot of women out there who just don't understand how challenging that really is.
    • In case you don't follow these things.
  • 15MBLink (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    on front page. The server is wiping tears right now!
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:19PM (#8125612) Homepage Journal
    Simple, elegant and with the right planning and execution some pretty decent murals could be done. I think there's a real market for it, even for commercial advertising. Give something like this more colors and even graphitti artists will begin to wonder why they put up with the freezing cold, cops, etc. when they could just hook up one of these and lurk in the shadows until it's done. No more lugging around twenty cans of spraypaint.
    • by m3djack ( 613125 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:32PM (#8125762) Homepage
      and even graphitti artists will begin to wonder why they put up with the freezing cold, cops, etc. when they could just hook up one of these and lurk in the shadows until it's done. No more lugging around twenty cans of spraypaint.

      Right, now they just have to lug around twenty cans of spraypaint, one hundred feet of rope, a level, a ladder, something to attach the rope to the side of the building with, a laptop, data cable, and a robot.

      Then, if the cops haven't come after someone complained of the racket of ladders hitting the sides of buildings and boltguns bolting the rope onto the side of a brick building, they may do all the lurking in the shadows they wish while the robot spends a half an hour drawing a landscape.
      • Right, now they just have to lug around twenty cans of spraypaint, one hundred feet of rope, a level, a ladder, something to attach the rope to the side of the building with, a laptop, data cable, and a robot.

        While you were typing this cynical view, I was considering what I'd have to do to pull off something. What modifications/enhancements I'd need to go 4 color, how to get away from paint cans. A bit of engineering and a decent exercise, but I think it could be done. Honestly, it's already been done

  • Hooray (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:19PM (#8125615) Journal
    A variation of an XY plotter, hanging from cables, gravity pulls it in the Y direction.

    A friend and I did something practically identical years ago for a tech shop project in high school, though we werent allowed to use spraypaint, so we had it draw on walls with magic markers, like a giant hanging etch-a-sketch. Worked pretty well, and really wasnt that complicated to build (QBasic "driver" software included)

  • Geeky... lazy... or perfectionist. Look at those serifs!
  • by webtre ( 717698 ) <webtre&hotmail,com> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:19PM (#8125620) Homepage Journal
    I think this story is a dupe. Didn't they send two of these to Mars?
  • It looks like it's basically a large plotter. This is the simplest form of printer, except that pens or wax is traditionally used instead of spray cans.

  • Bleah.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by JayPee ( 4090 )
    Whatever.. until he goes all-city, he gets no respect. I'd also like to see him hit freights. As soon as he got set up, ZOOOM. Away goes the train, with Hektor hanging on for dear life..
  • .

    Now you people at the JPL [], don't go getting any ideas from this...

  • ... with all that time spent on inventing that robot and getting it to work, they could have tagged so many things.... not that I am promoting tagging....
  • before this starts popping up everywhere:
    h3k70R iZ 7H3 L337357!!1
  • Art? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by s0l0m0n ( 224000 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:22PM (#8125650) Homepage
    Where's the art? I'm sure that there are lots of people who would argue that graffiti is not art, but I feel that it's a valid form of subversive social commentary.

    Most of the Graffiti kids I have known tag for a bunch of reasons..

    Reasons like the art of it (I've seen some fantastic tags), but mostly the challenge of getting to a spot where you have time to throw a good tag. I mean, half of what people graffiti is their own name, or TAG, mostly on the biggest, most difficult thing to get to that they can find.

    It's about the art, and about the challenge. Using a robot seems like mere automated vandalism.
    • Re:Art? (Score:3, Funny)

      by shaka999 ( 335100 )
      "Using a robot seems like mere automated vandalism"

      As opposed to good old fashioned manual vandalism? Yeah, there is a lot of art and challenge in putting up a gang name on every friggin corner.
      • Re:Art? (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        wow, you're a dumbass

        way to generalize, stereotype and hate what you don't understand

        plenty of taggers are both better technical artists than you will ever even dream of being, and also have nothing to do with gangs at all

        for such an 'educated' site, /. has some of the most blatant reactionary tunnel vision to be found on the planet

      • It's not always like that.

        Most of the people I've known who have done graffiti weren't gang members, and if you know what you are looking at, you can tell the difference.

        I don't really want to condone graffiti, but I've been pretty impressed by some of it.
    • Before we get into a discussion about whether or not this is 'art', please provide us with your definition of 'art'....
    • I think that's a little like saying an Ansel Adams isn't art because the camera did all the work.
    • Re:Art? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mateito ( 746185 )
      > Where's the art?

      In response to another followup - Art (like beauty) is in the eye of the beholder.

      There are peeps who say that all graffiti is vandalism, and others that all graffiti is art.

      Like any good fence sitter: I've seen some amazing renditions done with spray cans over "public" walls. These to me are art. Amazing use of colour, form. Many with a social message.

      "Tagging", which if interpret it correctly, means basically signing your name on every exposed surface you can find, to me is vandal
    • Re:Art? (Score:2, Interesting)

      Who said they would be doing it to vandalize? I'm sure that some company would want these people to do something like the Che art, except in their company logo or something similar. Obviously, the driver system they are using (check out the fonts) is advanced enough that they can create almost anything in B&W that they want.
      • When I was visiting a friend in Sweden, we took the train from Stockholm to Uppsala, and in Uppsala there is graffiti that is actually advertisements as you're pulling in to Uppsala. Seems like a pretty cool way to embrace a new artform.
    • Re:Art? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by warpedrive ( 532727 )
      Graffiti tagging is not art. It's someone who damages the works of engineers, city planners, other muralists and artists. In as far as I can see it's a far cry between making a building, a train, or a bus stop, and 'signing' your name on it.. Just because you don't put the effort in to do something really constructive, doesn't mean that writing your name on everything you see makes you creative.

      It's somewhat equivalent to scrawling you name over top of a Renoir, and saying you've created a new work of art.
      • Re:Art? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by s0l0m0n ( 224000 )
        So some one like Michelangelo who paints on a building with permission is an artist, but some one who paints on a building without is merely defacing a building?

        That's an awfully black and white view of the world.

        I suppose that all of those cave paintings were some punk kid throwing up gang signs for the bison gang.

        You wanna roll with the bison, fool?
      • Marcel Duchamp took a urinal and signed the name "R. Mutt" on it.

        It now sits in a museum in Europe somewhere.

        I'm sure a google for "dada" will give you plenty of reasons on why this work was important.

        Just because you have a narrow view of what constitutes art does not mean that something like graffiti is not art.
    • Re:Art? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rude Turnip ( 49495 )
      I've seen lots of graffiti...some of it looks really good, some of it is just there for vandalism purposes. The former I'd call art, regardless of the surface it's on.

      But or not, IT'S NOT YOUR FSCKING WALL!!! Buy a goddamn canvas or get someone's permission before you paint their building. This is a simple case of "your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."

      • Hear hear!

        As someone who periodically has to repaint his property because of the little assh*les, I second the "BUY A DANG CANVAS!!!" movement.

    • Re:Art? (Score:3, Insightful)

      I haven't read their 37 page PDF about how the robot works, but I did watch the video. If your argument is that the art is in the challenge, then I think the challenge aspect here is huge. Having time to mount the two stepper motors, calibrate the cable lengths (though this may be automated - the can was pulled to either side at the beginning of the video, maybe letting the robot figure out the length of the cables?), and have enough time for the robot to do it's thing seems rather challenging to me.

    • You've got it wrong, the output is not the art here. The art is Hector, watch, these guy's will get quiet a bit of exposure, and then grants funding for more projects. The field for technology in the arts is wide open right now, lots of crap out there, this will be considered innovative by gallery owners in NYC.
    • Where's the art? I'm sure that there are lots of people who would argue that graffiti is not art...

      I'm one of them. Let's see what tune you are whistling when someone tags your HOUSE.

      ... but I feel that it's a valid form of subversive social commentary.

      Where's the "social commentary" in writing your name on something? It still sounds like hooliganism to me.

      Why isn't smashing windows or slashing tires valid social commentary too?
      • Re:Art? (Score:2, Informative)

        by max2kone ( 746850 )
        With graffiti writing you have to take 2 things into account:

        1. What is the location of the writing? Is it an appropriate location (i.e. no personal property i.e. houses, small businesses; not on a cultural monument or other work of art; nature is another big no) Is the work appropriate for the location? (does it work off the environment around it to assimilate itself into the general experience of its location?)

        2. What is the substance of the writing? Any 12 year old with a spraycan can write his name wi
    • by s88 ( 255181 ) l%20art
  • by danaan ( 728990 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:22PM (#8125653)
    This just makes me wonder why similar technology hasn't been used for the giant advertisements that cover the entire side of buildings. From what I've seen, these are all done by living human artists, who do a remarkable job in most cases. But it would seem very realistic, and I'd think cheaper to use some kind of robotic painter that could replicate art on anything. Have I just missed the news, or is it Clear Channel holding back the progress of technology?
    • Exactly what I was going to say. And if one were to replac Hector's rattle can with a real spray rig (or with 3 if you want color) it would be no sweat to implement world class murals very quickly and easily.
  • by bat2k ( 202393 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:22PM (#8125665)
    Here's the old post. []
  • by Progman3K ( 515744 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:23PM (#8125674)
    As if those no-talent taggers aren't enough, now we can look forward to them automating the process.

    Proof-positive tagging isn't art.

    *puts on flame retardant underpants*
    • Apparently now Apple is making a product called iTag. It's part of the $49.00 iLife bundle and includes 1000 graphiti clip-art items that auto-taggers can include in their "artwork".

      Tagging just isn't the same as it was when I was a kid.

  • by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:23PM (#8125675) Homepage Journal
    We already have robots that make bad art. They're called "network executives".
  • I propose we rename it from Hector into Turk 182 2nd Edition...
  • A graffiti robot is cool...but it just doesn't have the attitude of a bending robot! Let me know when this thing can drink booz, pick up hookers, pimp and crush humans all before 11am. Maybe then I'll be impressed.

    Bender: Hmm, looks like my antenna's in the wrong place... let me just adjust it...
    Fry: Bender, no! You'll make baby jesus cry!
  • by DarkHand ( 608301 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:26PM (#8125707)
    A direct link to a 15MB .mov file on the front page of slashdot? Does someone REALLY not like the people who run that server or something?
    • A direct link to a 15MB .mov file on the front page of slashdot? Does someone REALLY not like the people who run that server or something?

      Yeah. They tagged his office, now he's DDOSing their server in retribution. The punks.
  • ...if it could do this [].

    as it is... it's impressive, but it isn't the graffiti 'Birth of Venus'
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:30PM (#8125749)
    I saw this yesterday on Gizmodo, and was tremendously impressed with not only the quality of workmanship, but also the terrific software design - these guys created a custom program to take input from Adobe Illustrator, and create paths upon which Hektor can travel easily. See [] for the plugin. Really tremendous product, and the results are amazing (check out the portrait of Che Guevara in the PDF!)
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:30PM (#8125750)

    Yeah, a nice bit of javascript that opens over a half dozen windows in rapid-fire order, ordered a CD from Amazon using my account, sent a flaming email to GWB, redirected me to the goat-whatever guy, played the Dean Scream, and then crashed Mozilla. Well, ok, only the bit about opening up a bunch of photos.

    [RANT]Folks- popup windoid things as part of your website are like talking appliances. Every so often, designers get it in their heads that it's a Hot Idea, and then everyone drags them out into the street and demonstrates how the current generation of designers got their new jobs. If I want to open something on your site in a new window, I'll goddamn hold down the modifier key and THEN click the link, thanks much.[/RANT]

  • Mayors all over the world rejoice!

  • This is a printer/plotter. Moves on wires. Makes marks. Hooray.
  • Dang (Score:3, Funny)

    by MattTC ( 45020 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:33PM (#8125782) Homepage
    I was hoping for a robot that would enter data into my Palm Pilot for me.
  • Robot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rupert ( 28001 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:33PM (#8125784) Homepage Journal
    Definitions of robot vary, of course, but I feel that something that has to be attached by a human to the object on which it works does not meet mine.

    A real graffiti robot would have suckers, or crampons, or a big extending ladder, not rely on someone else placing pulleys for it.
  • how rad would that be if johnny five could have done this?
  • Now this is a taggin' robot!!!

    Check out the GraffitiWriter at Applied Autonomy [].
  • This is very cool, however I don't understand why the paint can appears to "hover" around the start point for drawing.

    Had I written the algorithm, I would have just made it move directly to the point and then start drawing - but this looks like it goes to the start point, waves around the immediate area for a bit and then starts.

    (Answer may be in PDF, I can't open it though)

    • If you watch the 'robot' throughout the entire video, it seems to be very particular about getting the can moving in the right direction before it stats spraying. Almost att the sprays, for whatever reason, seem to go from lower right to upper left. The 'hovering' is the robot positioning the can for the proper spray direction. As to WHY the robot sprays like that, I have no idea. :)
  • holy pop ups batman! (Score:5, Informative)

    by circletimessquare ( 444983 ) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:36PM (#8125820) Homepage Journal
    if you click on the jpg link... consider yourself warned
  • by Flat Feet Pete ( 87786 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:36PM (#8125832) Homepage Journal
    OK, so one guy can paint a shed, but to paint the side of a tower block, you need scaffolds or a lift and time. Lots of money.

    With this thing you just need a longer piece of rope and two mount points. Bigger building? longer rope. Switch the paint nozzle by radio. Even bigger building, just a longer rope.
    • Even bigger building, just a longer rope

      This would work up to a point, but it wouldn't scale well for big structures. Rope stretches, even static ropes not designed for climbing still stretch a little. The longer the rope gets the heavier it is so the more it stretches. Unless you account for this when working out the position of the sprayer your pictures are going to be distorted.

      You might be able to solve it using steel cables instead of rope which would stop the stretching problem but you might

  • First they should be forced to build a graffity-cleaning bot. Many find graffity ugly and that it lowers property resale values.
    • Yes and if you design a new paint brush you should have to make a cleaning cloth too. It is only called a graffiti robot because it paints designs on walls. I doubt they are planning to take it round town to tag bus shelters.

      Actual uses would be numerous, interior design being an obvious one. Want a mural on your wall but can't paint, hire one of these from your local interior design place and put any design/picture you want on your walls. It could also be used for repainting billboards, no more sendin

  • Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by ripleymj ( 660610 ) <> on Thursday January 29, 2004 @02:40PM (#8125880)
    Video available here []

    PDF available here []

  • ...the picture the robot draws in the video is a self-portrait of the peanut gallery who kept commenting throughout the entire movie.

    <rimshot> Be sure to tip your waitress, I'll be here all week!
    *duck and cover*
  • since when are taggers not lazy?
  • Already covered on July 7th, 2003. []

    If you didn't see it then, the BBC News story linked in the July posting still works.

  • some slimy patent lawyer who probably doesn't even know how spray cans work.
  • That we'll never-ever be rid of the 5 inch floppy cachunk-cachunk noise if people start making these things en masse?

  • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday January 29, 2004 @03:22PM (#8126395)
    What will our children do when these grafitti robots come and replace them? They will have nothing to do but wander the streets and vandalise things ... oh wait nevermind.
  • I was gonna make one of these!! Well, I don't have a school grant so I didn't, but mine was going to drive itself along sidewalks and use multi-colored spray chalk. Cool high-dpi sidewalk murals and the like, you know? I'd roll along on two robot controlled wheels and the print head would scoot left and right.
    • hmm, Its been done. Im looking for it on google -- cant find it.

      An geeky 'artists' collective got a grant to do just that. They put spray paint on the back of a remote control monster-truck. 4-5 cans of different colours were lined up in the back... as the truck moved, it would spray various dots and write slogans.

      What you described is mentioned on this geek's website. []

      AH! Here it is! [] have a look at the GraffitiWriter and Streetwriter projects from left menu. These two projects seem more fitting fo
  • Like we need more graffiti.

    Imagine all of the great things we could automate with robots:

    GraffitiBot - tags all clean walls with cool phrases like "i Ownz j00", "H4x0R", and "Linux Rules"

    ThiefBot - hangs out in front of convenience stores and steals hot dogs and candy bars

    CoffeeBot - Orders one regular coffee and sits in small groups at Starbucks all day long holding a section of newspaper

    BeggarBot - Identifies high traffic sidewalk areas, holds out sign, and pokes at passers by asking for handouts

  • There was a Judge Dredd where the judges seeked a master tager capable of tagging in inverosimile places that


    ends up discovered to be a robot bored with its job.

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