Beppo, the broom-pushing robot

The broom-pushing robot Beppo is a new magnetic attraction all over the HNF. Named after the philosophising street sweeper in Michael Ende’s novel “Momo”, Beppo works his broom all day long.

With six axis, 2.20 metres of reach and a weight of 900 kilograms, the robot IRB 6620 made by ABB is actually designed to perform jobs in industry with precision down to 0.03 millimetre. The Frankfurt-based programmer and media artist Sven Thöne taught Beppo to perform its sweeping task in the HNF.

Beppo and the spotlight

Beppo’s new mission in life is to move all 4 million red plastic particles that surround it. It performs its task in a cycle that lasts about 30 minutes, sweeping the granulate, drawing patterns and creating order in an apparently contemplative manner. The robot is constantly followed by a spotlight. The light’s movement can be influenced by the presence of visitors. Beppo becomes annoyed by the light and wields his broom in an effort to turn it off. In designing this scene, Thöne drew on the act of the American clown Emmett Kelly.

The spotlight that irritates Beppo and that he tries to drive away is the only thing that the robot perceives. It does not see the granulate. The interaction among Beppo, the spotlight and visitors turns the display into a fascinating experience and lends an artistic-philosophical perspective to it. A dynamic environment is created when a deterministic machine is connected to a non-deterministic system.