Cris Rose and Pepe have announced that the first Arborobots are ready to be released. This wood and brass collaboration will go on sale today (Thursday July 7th 2011) at 1:00PM ET.
The sets of 2 bots plus a camera accessory will be available for $175.00. The individual Rambles will run $150.00 with a camera, and the individual Roams will be $60.00. All prices are plus shipping from Switzerland. (There are only 3 sets, 2 individual Rambles and 2 individual Roams)
And now for a lengthy - yet entertaining - backstory:
"In an attempt to increase robot production and improve computational power, the research and development team at Omega Tellurion made an international request for anyone with new ideas and techniques. Among the flood of bizarre and inane suggestions from the general public, there was single proposal that stood out... at least in so far as it was the only submitted on handmade paper. Before the thick tome was even opened, it had garnered significant interest as it appeared that the hard cover and thin leaves of paper had not been bound, but were of one continuous form. The engraving on the front was also of an unknown method. While it seemed to be a finely etched hardwood, under picometer wave inferascope analysis it was clear that each cell and fibre was perfectly aligned and undamaged. Even the colouring on the pages were found to be pigments within the cells themselves, purposefully aligned to produce extremely high resolution text and vivid full colour images.
The contents of this highly unique book left the team of scientists puzzled and bemused. Expecting the language of technology and manufacture, this text read more like a gardeners handbook with a heavy dose of genetics. Having no specialists in either field, a request was made for the gentleman responsible for this submission to make a personal visit to the research lab at Omega Moonbase. In reply came a counter-invitation to visit a more terrestrial location. Switzerland.
Along with England and Norway, Switzerland was one of the few countries to insist on retaining their national identity long after most that had joined the Global Harmonious Republic had allowed their boarders to be dissolved. The destination was accessible only by air - a remote mountain valley deep within the largest of those national forests that had been re-established a century or so prior. No sooner had they set foot on the deep, lush grass, then they were greeted by a soft spoken man named Pepe. "
Barely able to get a word of greeting out, Pepe insisted that he take the researchers on a brief tour. Revealing that he had turned much of the valley into his own private Arboretum, he'd continued the work that his Grandfather before him had begun. Of greater interest to the visitors were the buildings that appeared to be embedded into and part of the gargantuan trees around them. Lead into an underground dwelling, the space opened into a vast workshop formed by huge roots more than 10 meters across. Everywhere they looked, everything from furniture to computer terminals appeared to be entirely organic, even the light fittings consisted of bio-luminescent orbs suspended from silk-like vines.
Unable to wait any longer the leader of the party introduced himself, and gesturing vaguely in several directions, asked how all of it was possible. Without so much as a glance in their direction, the mysterious host bent at the knees and reclined into a throne of roots that raised themselves up to meet him. Indicating they should do the same, they were soon all seated and becoming increasingly bemused.
Offering up a shortened version of what was clearly a story spanning decades, Pepe explained that he was the son of a gardener and a geneticist. Part of an old family of independent wealth. This situation had provided not only the scientific education and love of trees that drove his work forward, but the means to indulge his research and relocate to such a unique setting. By building on his fathers extensive work, Pepe had succeeded in understanding and manipulating the genetics of an impressive array of trees. Initially this was merely the ability to control the shapes they formed as they grew, but in resent years had branched out to include rapid growth, movement and DNA computing.
Explaining that the entire structure was a single living tree with computing embedded directly into the plants Genome, it's power came from the photosynthesis occurring in the millions of leaves above ground. In effect, it was a living supercomputer and laboratory grown from a seed. With this, Pepe had produced the book that contained the genetic designs for a variety of techniques that could be applied to building robots - covering everything from internal support structures, beautiful wood-grained exterior paneling, flexible locomotion and DNA-based computer cores - almost every aspect of a robot large or small was clearly defined in exquisite detail.
Finally Pepe conceded that in reality, he knew little of the design of robots themselves, nor did he have any way of providing a compact power source or the programming required for them to operate. With the ball now in the researchers court, the team excitedly outlined a version of the thermomagnetic couplings that sustainably fueled their metal robots and could be grown using the new genetic techniques. Exclaiming the programming would be identical to any other automaton, a partnership was immediately proposed that would herald a whole new range of organically grown tree robots, the Arborobots.
For every Arborobot that is grown for sale, another is grown and freed as part of an Omega Tellurion research program. Many of these come to find themselves in the sea, either by choice or accident, where they drift around the great currents for Leagues at a time. By the time they wash up upon a foreign shore, they've had months or even years to do nothing but think and are changed for the experience, both inside and out. Every Driftwood Arborobot is unique, changed by time and experience.