OCTOBER 5—30, 2012


Mey Lean Kronemann
swarm robot installation

robot platform developed by Mey Lean Kronemann and Philipp Urbanz

The lumiBots are a swarm of small, autonomous robots that react to light. Equipped with a UV-LED at their tail, they can leave phosphorescent trails on a glow-in-the-dark mat.
The trails slowly fade away, so that older, darker lines are visible as well as newer, brighter ones. In this way, generative images are created that consistently change.
The lines do not only tell the story of the robots’ movements, but have a deeper meaning for the lumiBots: They can follow the other robots’ as well as their own trails, and amplify them, thus creating an ant-trail-like mechanism.

The behaviour of the lumiBots is not pre-programmed and not predictable. It emerges from the interaction between the robots, influences from their surroundings, and just two simple rules: ‘Go where it is brighter’ and ‘Change direction when the bump sensors are triggered’. Due to small hardware inaccuracies they are all individuals, even though built and programmed the same. The robots do not have a memory chip, but the glowing trails can be seen as a kind of external memory.

The lumiBots are both a science and an art project. They visualize how complexity emerges from simple rules and illustrate the principle that underlies complex systems such as flocks of birds, the weather, or global phenomena.
The system currently consists of nine hemispheric robots of 12 cm diameter in an arena of approx. 1m x 2m in a darkened room.


Mey Lean Kronemann is an artist, hacker and researcher from Berlin, who explores the topic of emergence, swarm behaviour, and how interaction and rules generate complex structures. Mey defines emergent interactive installations as an advanced form of generative design/art. Mey has presented and exhibited her works at several media art festivals including lab.30, Piksel, and LiWoLi, and international conferences including DIS, ICRA, and technarte. Her works were awarded by Digital Sparks (Honorary Mention for schuechterne lichter, 2008), Japan Media Arts Festival (Jury Selection Work for lumiBots, 2011) and Art of Engineering (Prize award for lumiBots, 2012). Mey Lean Kronemann (born 1982) has studied Interaction Design in Malmö, Sweden, and Product Design and Interface Design in Potsdam, Germany, where she graduated in 2009. In 2010, she was a research fellow at Potsdam University of Applied Sciences.