Grey Walter’s Turtles

  • Published September 12, 1970
  • By Dave Catlin

Grey Walter’s Tortoises Prequel to Educational Robots

William Grey Walter (1910 – 1977) was an American-born British neurophysiologist and robotician.  Born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1910.  He was brought to England and worked in London hospitals in the field of neurophysiology.  From 1939 to 1970 he worked Burden Neurological Institute in Bristol.  Between 1948 and 1949 Grey Walter designed and built two robots called Elmer and Elsie which he called tortoises.   These were autonomous creatures that could exhibit so basic behaviours in response to their environment and internal state.  In honour of this work Seymour Papert called the Logo robots Turtles. (American English call tortoises – turtles).   In this post you will find a number of videos showing Grey Walter’s work.


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