Survival Research Labs: Machines

S R L   M a c h i n e s   a n d   S a f e t y   P r o c e d u r e

Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) has staged over 45 mechanized presentations in the United States and Europe since its inception in 1978. SRL has operated as an independent arts organization, producing its own live mechanical performances which consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, elaborate props and special effects devices which together are employed to develop themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators.

Survival Research Laboratories based in San Francisco, was founded by Mark Pauline who is considered to be a pioneer of the industrial performing arts genre. SRL shows are essentially performance art installations acted out by machines rather than people. The interactions between the machines are usually noisy, fiery, and feature large and technically advanced robots choreographed and operated by SRL in a live performance.

The following is a list of machines with descriptions and photographs that SRL will be utilizing for a machine performance at Robodock, Amsterdam, the Netherlands on 22 Sept 2007. The machines. titles, descriptions of their functions, means of power, and fuel load information (where applicable) are included.



Stationary Machines
Little Arm
The small arm (12 ft. long) *usually* on the Screw Machine. It can be controlled remotely by a human via the arm controller (gesture based interface). It will be mounted on the Screw Machine again for this show. It takes 2 gallons of gasoline.
Shockwave Cannon
This giant stationary device forms vortex rings of air and projects the rings at high speeds. It's barrel is approximately 20 ft. mounted atop a reinforced tripod. An oxygen-propylene mixture creates a non-propulsive, controlled explosion at the back of the chamber causing a toroidal air current to accelerate out the barrel. Air-operated ball valves control the fuel delivery and safety check valves are installed on both the oxygen and the fuel lines. An electronic timing control system keeps the gas mixture precise. A timer automatically stops when the gas is mixed and the device can only fire after the timer has shut off.
Original Air Launcher
A high pressure launcher that uses CO2 to create bursts of air to project weighted soda pop cans with a range of about 1/4 mile. This will be positioned so that it is aimed away from audience.
New Mr. Satan
Based on the original Mr. Satan robot from the 1980s, the head of the original was 3D-scanned and milled out of a 300 lb. block of solid stainless steel. There is a propane furnace attached to it from behind where 6-8 in flames can be blown out threw the heads 'eyes' and 'mouth'. It will be attached to the Bombloader. In the event of a power failure the electric ball valve defaults to off. There are back manual ball valves as well.
Large Pulse Jets
5 150 pound thrust pulse jet engines requiring 85 liters of propane each.
Williams Jet
The engine is part of an Auxillary Power Unit (APU) NAVAIR 03-105BD-1, manufactured by Williams Research (now Williams International ) to start aircraft. The starter is hydraulic, and would require a large "mule" (electric motor and hydraulic pump) to start the engine. A Mitsubishi car starter was attached to the engine so the hydraulic starter could be removed. Used at SRL shows for sound and flame effects. It takes 2 gallons of diesel.
Flame Saucer
This devise disperses fire horizontally in all directions creating a 40' disk of flame. It utilizes a plenum chamber to store the propane and a large valve that releases the gas to a shape nozzle that makes the disk shape. This devise has a power failure fail safe that shuts down the fuel in the event of a power failure. The operator can also control this valve from the control box with the master on/off. Additionally, there are also 1/4 turn ball valves at the fuel tanks.
Mobile Machines
A replica of a WWII German-designed buzz bomb jet engine, modified to produce low frequency acoustic output (45 hertz) rather than thrust. This large machine burns gasoline, the machine is mounted on wheels and moves relatively slowly (approximately 3 mph) from place to place via an electric forklift drive motor under remote control. Burning of fuel takes place within a steel chamber. Some flame products are emitted from the exhaust opening, along with large amounts of heated air. Power for this device is from a V1 gasoline engine driving the main compressor and an alternator for electric motor drive. Fuel load: 40 gallons, gasoline.
The loudest robot in the world at 150 decibels. Louder than a cruise missile. A 27 hp gas motor provides lift by powering a small industrial fan mounted blower-side down, while 4 propane powered pulse jets are used for steering. This remote controlled aluminum hovercraft rises 6-10 inches off the ground and can move in any direction. The whole platform is ringed with a fringed skirt so that trapped air forces the craft upward. Two 8 pound propane tanks supply the 4 jets. Fuel load: 2 gallons, gasoline.
Running Machine
A graceful six-legged, remote controlled machine that walks at approximately 5-6 mph. Gas powered engine drives a hydro-motor which runs the various chain linkages that turn an elaborate configuration of sprockets, creating locomotion of the legs. The eloquent design is its main feature, and in addition to movement being the machine's primary role (it is very maneuverable), it has a hydraulically actuated manipulator arm on the front end that can carry props or various acessories. Gas powered, made in 1992. Fuel load: 4 gallons, gasoline.
Large, remote-controlled wheeled machine moves with either a crabbing or inching motion, and has a large vertical jaw mounted on the front that can grab and carry props. It has 4 wheels though its overall shape is in a triangulated configuration. The 2 front wheels are seperated like a normal chassis while the 2 back wheels are together, forming a triangle. The seperated front wheels pull the machine forward, the crab-like action is a motion mechanism that works by opposing ratchets on the wheels that change directions in opposition. The machine can also reverse direction and "inch" along using the 2 back wheels. The gas motor is an industrial Wisconsin motor that drives a slave hydro-pump. The hydro-pump is the machine's main power, creating the front end's side-to-side motion, the neck of the vertical jaw, and the back and forth of the rear end's inching movement. Fuel load: 3 gallons, gasoline.
Screw Machine
The Screw Machine is a radio-controlled machine driven via a complex chained gear system. Its wheels are smaller metal wheels threaded around cylinders similar to the threads in a screw, hence the name. Powered by a 1 cylinder Briggs and Stratton gasoline engine. Fuel load: 2 gallons, gasoline. The Little Arm will be mounted on the top half for this show.
Dual Mules
2 Master Mover tugs normally used for moving industrial materials, connected by a steel beam. It is radio controlled and has an unusual, slow-moving gait where one tug follows the other. Runs on 24v batteries. Needs 110v for the built-in chargers.
A military bomb loader typically used for loading ammunition onto aircraft, the SRL version is radio-controlled and various attachments are added in place of military weapons or ammunition, such as the Boeing, Hand-O-God, and for this show, Mr. Satan. Fuel load: 2 gallons, gasoline. The Satan Head will be mounted on the Bombloader for this show.
No image available Prop (to be built onsite)
Another in a series of mechanized props. This device consists of two 4ft "wheels" attached to a gear box. it is driven by a 12v battery-powered wheelchair motor, and is "steered" by the objects it runs into.

Safety Procedures

Internal Show Security Safety:
SRL has a strict policy of locking down the show staging area (playing field) during shows. Authorized personal and SRL crew only are allowed inside the designated show staging area during show times. A SRL security lead will be overseeing security and safety of all machines and crew prior to show time, during showtime and post show clean up in the playing area.

Barriers placed between audience and mobile machines will be provided by Robodock. There is only one projectile machine: the Original Air Launcher which will be aimed at targets that are positioned away from audience. Safety crew will be stationed along the perimeter to ensure that the audience stays within the barriers. All machines have emergency kill switches and their operators are well-versed and familiar with emergency shutdown procedures of the machine they are opertaing.

Emergency exits will be set up and clearly marked based on the site. Wind direction will also be considered when planning for audience placement.

The crew will be equipped with fire extinguishers to be provided by Robodock and are well-trained in the operation as well as shut down of each of the machines they are running. Each machine will be manned by at least 2 crew members one of whom acts as a spotter. Mobile machine operators are in radio contact with each other for the duration of the show.

Mobile Machine Emergency Shutdown
All machines have externally mounted kill switches. All Futaba radio controllers enter a fail-safe mode with all channels off if radio signal is lost.

Crew will be equipped with eye and ear protection. Ear protection should be given out to the audience. Attendees should also be notified of this on announcements pertaining to the perforamnce.

The Hovercraft kicks up dust - the site should be either watered down so it is moist and the area free of debris. The crew will clear the area prior to the show.

Audience Placement, Show Site Planning and Design
Additioanlly, audience, barrier, exits, and machine placement will be determined together with Robodock crew on site upon SRL's arrival.