The SRL Lab: Inventions and Experiments

In keeping with SRL's mission of re-directing the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations, several experiments were performed resulting in SRL being the first civilians to use free software and the Internet to provide remote, anonymous controllers for lethal devices over the web.



First civilians to code and use telerobotics for lethal devices over the web


The idea for a show where users could operate a machine remotely was first conceived over a decade ago by Mark Pauline and Eric Paulos with Karen Marcelo implementing the server code to communicate with the machine through the serial port and animated, 2D and 3D user interfaces in a way that provides for concurrent, anonymous remote destruction. This makes SRL the first to offer the public remote control over potentially lethal devices over the web.

Tele-obliteration First (Karen Marcelo, Eric Paulos, Marc Anthony Slayton)


December 1999 - Tokyo, Japan

  • First user-operated robot in a live performance. The Track Robot in Yoyogi Park was controlled by a remote user at the ICC.
  • Air Launcher and Pitching Machine were also tele-operated prior to the show.

June 1998 - San Francsico, California

  • Users in Moscone Center drive the Track Robot on Market Street, stopping traffic and interacting with pedestrians
  • South Park prank: Remote users in Moscone Center burn the Epileptic Bot via a 3D web interface to the loudest flame thrower on earth
  • Air Launcher located 2 miles away fired over the web at the Keynote Panel on Displaced Perceptions: Intriguing Questions on the Desires of Unhibited Technology

October 1997 - Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Air Launcher used to fire explosive rounds in San Francisco by users in Germany and Chicago during the opening of the ZKM Gallery in Karlruhe.

July 1997 - Tokyo, Japan

  • 3 machines (1 in San Francisco, 2 in Tokyo) were controlled over the web. Remote users drove the Track Robot and controlled it's arm to press a button Panel on the Epileptic Bot at the ICC in Tokyo. The buttons on the Epileptic Bot then sent commands over the Internet to the Air Launcher in San Francisco where exploding targets were set up and obliterated indirectly by the users in Tokyo.



First to stream wireless video live (1997)


The SRL show in Austin, Texas was also the first time live, wireless, streaming video was broadcast over the web.

SRL Makes Wireless Video Webcast History

March 1997 - Austin, Texas

  • A microwave antenna was erected 3 miles away from the Longhorn Speedway to enable the live, wireless, Real Video broadcast of the SRL show The Unexpected Destruction of Elaborately Engineered Artifacts



First mechanical test of a swarming/flocking algorithm (1992)

  • Raymond Drury implemented a flocking/swarming algorithm using SRL machines called the Swarmers. This was the first time flocking and swarming was physically implemented in time for the ground breaking of the SF MOMA



First animal-controlled robot in a performance


Mark Pauline built a 6-legged walking robot with a harness that held his guinea pig Stu in place. The guinea pig's movements actuated motors to move the robot. Stu performed in several of the early SRL shows in the '80s.