Robot choreographies

27 February 2013

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Today’s TED talk features a troop of NAO robots performing an upbeat choreography.

Robot dances are often the first demo made by roboticists eager to showcase their hardware, we’ve covered many robot moves in the past. The dance in this video is impressive because of the complex motions involved and difficult balancing acts, it’s also very artistic.

To make a robot dance, you usually pre-program a set of motor commands and timings, or a so-called choreography. To start the dance, press the robot’s “start” button and launch the music at the same time. When multiple robots are dancing together, you usually need a wireless signal to wake all the robots at the same time, so the dance seems synchronized. Here the maestro might be Bruno Maisonnier’s red NAO. In most cases, robots do not listen to the music or react to one another, although there is research being done (see paper by Xia and colleagues @ CMU) to make robot dancing fully autonomous. Here are some other examples of dancers that can actually feel the beat.

Even if dancing robots can’t yet make you twirl on the dance floor, they are a great vector to get students excited about robotics. I vividly remember watching QRIO dance way back when Sony was still making it. Aldebaran, the company behind the NAO robot, is actually organizing a “Robotics Idol” dance competition in California, I would have loved to participate in that as a kid!

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Sabine Hauert is President of Robohub and Associate Professor at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory
Sabine Hauert is President of Robohub and Associate Professor at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory

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