Weekly Robot Update 011
In an unfortunate mishmash of engrish, her name is Partner Ballroom Dance Robot, or PBDR. The PBDR is a collaborative effort between both robotics and creative design companies. Developed by the Kosuge and Wang Laboratory of Tohoku University, Nomura Unison, and Troiso. In cooperation with Riken and Nanasai, this unlikely robot has quite a pedigree. The Partner Ballroom Dance Robot stands 1.65 meters (about 5'4") tall, and weighs a respectable 100 kilograms. She can move her upper body via a series of actuators in her waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and neck. She has pressure and motion sensors integrated into her reflective neon plastic body. The robot moves across the dance floor by means of three electric powered wheels hidden beneath her gown like form factor. The skirts also conceal PBDR's logic, control system, and batteries which allow her to cut a rug for half an hour before needing a recharge.
PBDR is capable of executing a series of dance moves on her own, as well as mimicking the movements of a partner, or following a human dancers lead. She responds to movement and pressure exerted by her dance partner, and is able to smoothly be guided through a myriad of ballroom dances. PBDR debut at last years World Expo Prototype Robot Expidition in Aichi Japan. Needless to say, she was the bell of the ball. Since then, PBDR's creators have been making constant upgrades and improvements. There is even a male PBDR in the works. (Have a look at the Partner Ballroom Dance Robot dancing here. Or if you prefer a downloadable version, have at it.)
The purpose behind the PBDR is to better develop human-robot physical interaction. So that a robot could respond to the wishes of its owner based on a subtle pressure or guiding hand. Another key technology that Partner Ballrom Dance Robot was developed to explore is that of anticipation. Researchers want to have a system where in a robot can predict its owners needs without being explicitly instructed to do something. All of this is of course geared to the support of Japans growing elderly population. The technology that is derived from PBDR will be incorporated into future robots that will provide care for those that cannot completely care for themselves. Someday we may see the descendants of PBDR helping old ladies across bustling streets, caring for the infirm, or minding the children. But for now, these gleaming, graceful, automatons are strictly ballroom. [via we make money not art]
FOOTBALL! - Strongbad