History Making robots
Grey Walter's Tortoises
||22 March 2015|
Number six was Grey Walter's personal Tortoise and as such was never on display at the Festival of Britain. It was used in Grey Walter's ongoing research and was the only one of the FoB Tortoises to have its own spanner, held in a clip to the rear of the Shell support, which was used to adjust the relay contacts.
It can be seen in the stills from the 1972 documentary "Future Shock" narrated by Orson Welles.
Grey Walter died in 1977 and it is lucky #6 was not thrown away. Presumably it passed to his son Nicolas because in 1995 Nicolas said it had been in his cellar for twenty years.
In 1985 Brunel University borrowed the Tortoise and decided to 'repair' it for an exhibition on Grey Walter. They removed the original lead acid battery and battery shelf and replaced them by a black plastic holder for four D-cells. Also it looks like the original holder for the HT battery was removed and replaced by an aluminium shelf holding five PP3 9v batteries.
Following the exhibition it was returned to Brunel. A few years later Nicolas learned it was going to be thrown away, rescued it and put it back in his cellar.
In the 90s Owen Holland of the University of the West of England started to track down its whereabouts, if any, and was fortunate in 1995 to be given Nicolas's telephone number from 10 years before. Owen went to see Nicolas and he gave (or loaned?) the Tortoise to the University on condition it was made available to researchers.
After one capacitor was replaced and with fresh batteries #6 worked. It had a final demonstration at the Burden Neurological Institute (BNI) in March 1995 and now is on display at the Science Museum London. Virtually all the other exhibits belong to the Science Museum but #6 still belongs to the University and is only on permanent loan.
 YouTube - starting at about 17:26
 Elmer the Tortoise By Owen Holland
 Reuben Hogget correspondence with Dr Ray Cooper, scientific director of the BNI (1971-1988)
 told to me by Alan Winfield