Behind those dance robots, scientists had to bust a move

January 24, 2021 Technology
The person who designed a number of the world’s most advanced dynamic robots was on a daunting mission: programming his creations to dance to the beat with a variety of fluid, explosive and expressive motions that are almost human being.

The results? Almost a year and 50 percent of choreography, simulation, programming and upgrades that were capped by two times of filming to make a video recording running at less than three minutes. The clip, showing robots dance to the 1962 struck “Do YOU LIKE Me?” by The Contours, was an instant hit on social press, attracting a lot more than 23 million views through the first week.

It displays two of Boston Dynamics' humanoid Atlas research robots doing the twist, the mashed potato and different classic movements, joined by Spot, a doglike robot, and Handle, a wheeled robot suitable for lifting and moving boxes in a warehouse or vehicle.

Boston Dynamics founder and chairperson Marc Raibert says what the robot maker learned was far more valuable.

“It turned out that we had a need to upgrade the robot in the center of development for it to be strong more than enough also to have enough strength to do the complete performance without stopping. In order that was a genuine benefit to the look,” Raibert says.

The difficult challenge of teaching robots to dance as well pushed Boston Dynamics engineers to develop better motion-programming tools that let robots reconcile balance, bouncing and performing a performance simultaneously.

“Hence we went from having very crude tools for doing that to presenting very effective rapid-generation tools so that by the time we were done, we're able to generate new dance guidelines very quickly and integrate them in to the performance,” Raibert says.

The caliber of the robots’ dance was so excellent that some viewers online said they couldn't believe their eyes. Some applauded the robots’ movements and the technology powering them. Others appeared to be freaked out by a few of their expressive routines.

Others added that what they were seeing was first probably computer-generated imagery, or perhaps CGI.

Not, Raibert says.

What was on screen was a outcomes of long, hard work fueled by a perseverance to program the robot to dance to the beat, he says.

“We didn’t prefer a robot performing robotlike dancing. We wished it to do human dancing and, you understand, when a individual dances, the music includes a defeat and their whole physique techniques to it - their hands, their body, their brain,” he says. “And we tried to receive all of those points involved and coordinated to ensure that it, you find out, it was ... it appeared as if the robot was having a great time and really transferred with the music. And I feel that had a great deal to do with the consequence of the production.”

Coaching robots to dance with liquid and expressive motions was a new challenge for a company that spent years construction robots which may have functional abilities like going for walks, navigating in rough terrain, pick points up with their hands and use attached advanced sensors to screen and sense a lot of things, Raibert says.

“You know, our job is to stretch the boundaries of what robots can do, both regarding the outer research boundary, but also with regards to practical applications. And I think when people see the new issues that robots can do, it excites them,” he says.

The advanced Atlas robot uses variety of sensors to execute the dance moves, including 28 actuators - units that provide as muscles by switching electronic or physical signal into movement - in addition to a gyroscope that helps it to balance, and three quad-core onboard computer systems, including one that processes perception signals and two that control movement.

Still, the actual fact that video of the dance robots has fired up the general public imagination and inspired a sense of awe was gratifying, Raibert says.

“We hoped ... that persons would enjoy it plus they seem to be to. We’ve gotten phone calls from all over the community,” Raibert says. “We acquired a call in one of the audio engineers who had recorded the initial Contours performance back the '60s. And he said that his entire crew of Motown close friends had been moving it around and been thrilled by it.”


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