Control the octopus

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September 9, 2010

Source: Audi of America

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, – 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.

For more information about “Outrace”, please visit:

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