Will Jackson is the Director of Engineered Arts Ltd, based in Cornwall UK and is the creator of RoboThespian, a full sized humanoid acting robot.
Will built his first computer when he was thirteen which was quickly turned to robotic projects, an early creation was a two wheeled robot armed with a purple marker pen, its mission was to create drawings on paper laid out on the floor, it refused to be confined to paper alone and
scuttled under the bed to colour the carpet purple. Fortunately for Will, his mother Sue Jackson, founder of Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, the well known automata museum formerly in Covent Garden, encouraged his passion for bringing mechanical objects to life.
After graduating from the University of Brighton with a BA in 3D design, Will spent seven years travelling the world and working in the film and television industry before returning to Cornwall to branch out on his own
He spent time building one off art slot machines, ‘The Brainwasher’ and ‘Crankenstein’ can still be found on Southwold pier in Suffolk with Tim Hunkin’s Under The Pier Show. Will has created installations both sculptural, mechatronic and on film including London Science Museum’s ‘The Secret Life of the Home’ exhibition, where Will designed the popular cutinhalf toilet, illustrating the principle of the siphon. This features an ingenious mechanism that, after each flush, catches the ‘synthetic poo’, and returns it to the bowl.
Will formed Engineered Arts Ltd in 2004 and employed the talents of many talented local artists and engineers to produce a number of bespoke commissions for UK science centres and museums. Including major installations for The Eden Project in Cornwall, Glasgow Science
Centre, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew and Centrum Kopernik in Warsaw.
Many of these projects involved simple mechanical figures, animated by standard industrial controllers.
The role of ‘mechanical actors’ took a significant step forward when, early in 2005, the Company began work on the Mechanical Theatre for the Eden Project. This involved three figures, with storylines focused on genetic modification. Rather than designing another ad hoc set of figures for this new commission, Will decided to develop a generic programmable figure that would be used for the Mechanical Theatre, and the succession of similar commissions that would, hopefully, follow. The result was RoboThespian Mark 1 (RT1).
From thereon, Will directed a change of focus for the Company which now concentrates entirely on development and sales of a range of humanoid and semi humanoid robots featuring natural humanlike movement and advanced social behaviours. Engineered Arts’ humanoid robots are now used for social interaction, communication and entertainment at public exhibitions and attractions as well as university robot research labs. RoboThespian is currently in its 3rd generation and work is already underway on the 4th, an ambitious 2 year project which will bring to life a life sized fully dynamic, walking,
running and jumping humanoid robot.
RoboThespian can currently be found in fifteen countries worldwide