Ladybird of Szeged

Ladybug of Szeged (replica, 2000s)

As a young colleague of László Kalmár, Dániel Muszka built the Ladybird based on the idea of ​​psychologist József Király to model Pavlovian conditioned reflexes.

We chose the Ladybird - which almost brings the subject of cybernetics to life - as the symbol of our exhibition at Szeged.  

Deliberately chosen as a representative of Hungarian cybernetics and László Kalmár's school, this “artificial bug” was a media star before our exhibition, appearing on Hungarian television in the 1960s.  

But what can this attractive little creature do? First of all, it "sees", thanks to its three photocells. When you beam a flashlight on one of the photocells, the Ladybird turns right or left or rolls straight accordingly (using one of its the two small engines–originally used to operate a car's windshield wiper). It not only "sees", but also "hears", thanks to the built-in microphone. When you blow a whistle next to it, the lights in its eyes flash to the rhythm of the sound. If you press one of its dots, it perceives it as "pain" and starts to whistle ("cry") and refuses to follow the light of the flashlight (your commands). If, on the other hand, you caress its back–more precisely, a hidden sliding contact there–it calms down over time and is willing to move again. And its most important feature is that it can be "taught": if you whistle while following the beam of the flashlight, it will learn to listen to the sound of the whistle, and after the flashlight is off, it can also start to move to the sound of the whistle.  

The original electron tube version, made between 1956-1957, received power from plugs via a cable. Later, several copies were made of the same size as the original, and are now powered by batteries.   The Ladybird is a pure cybernetic creation, which attracts attention even today; among others, it was presented at the robot festival of the Science Museum in London in 2011.

Description (in Hungarian)

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