Leonardo Da Vinci made enormous contributions to society in just about everything he touched.  What people might not realize is Da Vinci could also be considered the father of robotics.

Discovered in his sketchbooks from 1495 were detailed plans for a mechanical knight that could move its arms, head and jaw through a series of pulleys and cables.  It was even rumored that Da Vinci’s robot could use its arm to draw a picture.

The Drawmaton continues the great master’s work in the form of a fully functional mechanical arm that creates art of its own.

Da Vinci’s Drawmaton is made solely from wood and metal and uses zero external power.  Simply hand twisting a knob in the corner sets a series of gears and joints in motion.  As the knob turns the motion is transferred through the wooden pieces down to the hand.

drawmaton drawing a picture

The wooden fingers hold everything from pencils to paintbrushes and methodically render out single-line drawings after a few turns of the knob.  The data for the drawing comes from programming “petalos” (or petals), which are wooden discs that work a little like a player-piano roll.

The notches and grooves on the petalo effect how the arm moves and which picture is drawn.  At launch, the Drawmaton will ship with up to 8 petalos, but a program is in the works so people can design their own drawings as well.

Drawmaton is the brain-child of the aptly named Leonardo da Vinci Robot Society in collaboration with award-winning paper engineer Robert Sabuda.  Sabuda made a name for himself with pop-up books and his ingenuity and creativity are clear in the design of the Drawmaton:

drawmaton gambler

drawmaton the slayer

As our culture becomes more digital every day it’s refreshing to see renaissance-era inventiveness make a comeback.  The Drawmaton is nearly at it’s funding goal and pre-orders are planned for delivery by June 2019.