home  >  History Making robots  >  Ladybird 29 November 2010

Ladybird - 1957 by Dániel Muszka and László Kalmár.

Built by Dániel Muszka with László Kalmár at Szeged University Hungary, the Szegedi Katicabogár (Ladybird) is a Cybernetic animal now at the Informatika Történeti Múzeum Alapítvány Szeged, Hungary.

The Ladybird is 60cm long, 40cm wide and 25cm high and had light sensors for eyes, a microphone, indicating lights, seven touch sensitive dots on its skin, capacitive memory and two electric motors. It was built to model conditioned reflexes, associating various stimuli, remembering them and forgeting them. Because of the difficulty of obtaining parts the Ladybird used an umbilical for the 220Vac power supply.

In summer 2009 Reuben and myself saw the Ladybird demostrated by Daniel and to celebrate Daniel's 80th birthday this year (2010) there is a new film of him and the Ladybird.
- A szegedi katicabogár (WMV 112 MB) at http://www.infmuz.hu/Filmek.htm
In the film the Ladybird has a shiny new fibreglass shell because the old papier maché shell was damaged by a museum a few years ago while the Ladybird was on loan. However all the internals are original.

Cybernetic Machines - T Nemes, tr. W A Ainsworth, Budapest 1969, p172
The "Coccinella", constructed at the Institute of Pedagogy and Psychology of Szeged University, Hungary, is a 'machina docilis' of the appearance of a ladybird, of 60 cm length and 25 cm height. Two of its photoelectric cells are connected like those of the Philips dog, so that if the machine has once "caught glimpse" of a lamp, it interrupts its search and heads towards the lamp till a third photoelectric cell switches the drive motor off when the light source is in the axis of the machine. On tapping or pressing the spots of the ladybird, the machine stops and emits a soft murmuring sound. This sound ceases when the back of the machine is stroked, and the machine begins to move again. The sound of a whistle of a certain pitch makes some lamps mounted on the machine light up. Several such conditioned reflexes can be stored, because the circuit which reproduces the development of the conditioned reflex is exceedingly simple (one tube only!). There are only 7 vacuum tubes, 3 crystal diodes, 3 photoelectric cells, 1 microphone and 2 motors in the machine: Instead of a battery of its own (the early models carried small batteries) this machine trails a flex connected to the mains.

The following description was made from machine translations of the description in
Hence it may not be quite right!

Note Nemes above says the Ladybird searches for light, here it says the ladybird only moves if it sees a light.

The Ladybird models both the unconditional and conditional reflex models. Is able to respond to a sound, to light, to a touch. If the light and sound stimuli are at the same time it learns that it should respond to a sound in the same manner as earlier it did to the light, that is a conditional reflex takes shape in him. This learned reflex may be forgotten if the stimuli are not presented again.
After the Ladybird is switched on the eyes of the beetle do not respond to dim light. If a light-source (ie. torch) is shone into his eyes the animal moves in the direction of the light and if the torch is moved the Ladybird will follow it. If the light is turned off or is too far away, it stops then, his eyes is insensitive again to dim light. If a flute is played, the eyes flash, indicating that he perceives the sound. If the light and the sound stimuli are coincident then they are associated then the beetle moves when it hears the sound only, and moves in a straight line.
Under the dots of the beetle are switches if we press one, or if he touches an object then the result is he closes his eyes (the same as if the light was turned off), expresses his disapproval with a growl, forgets the learned reflex and in this state neither reacts to light nor to sound. We can comfort it in that situation by caressing button on his back. At this time the growl stops, his eyes light up, and he becomes reactive again.

In 2004 a reproduction was made, more or less the same externally and nothing like the original on the inside!

Links [Jul07]
Java representation of actions

Original Ladybird




power point presentation

see also - Kalmár László (1905 - 1976), /2 mentions the Szegedi Katicabogár

Contributions - Reuben Hoggett.

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