Monday, October 27, 2008

South Korean And Japanese Scientists Develop Dancing Robots

Scientists at South Korea's Institute of Science and Technology have recently developed a robot which can do household chores and also dance. Named "Mahru", the robot can display emotions by moving its lips, eyebrows and even pupils freely to make faces and emit two scents of fragrances to match its emotions. It can also move its upper body parts freely while walking on its legs. "Mahru" which can dance while moving its legs was developed as a humanoid robot capable of working in place of a human. It will open the way for commercial use of humanoid robots doing housework.

Over in Japan, scientists at Tokhuro University had in 2005 developed a Partner Ballroom Dancing Robot (PBDR) which was able to predict the steps of a human dance partner based on body movements and react accordingly on its three wheels. The robot had sensors to anticipate the moves of its dance partner and a complex wheel system that enabled it to move freely in any direction. The 1.65 meter tall robot (or "fembot") had a female face and a female body. It wore a ballroom gown and came in bright pink plastic. Although it could match the movements of a human partner's upper body it could not perform dance steps.

Japanese scientists had in 2007 also taught a human-sized robot named "Promet" to imitate the steps of a dancer. It was hoped that the robot could be used to record the movements of traditional dances that may be lost as their performers die off. To demonstrate what the robot could do, the scientists programmed the 1.5 meter tall "dancebot" to mimic the graceful sways and whirls of the Aizu Bandaisan, a Japanese folk dance. Although its interpretation of the upper body movements of the Aizu Bandaisan was impressive, the robot had difficulty with complicated leg movements.

It would not be in the realm of science fiction anymore that sometime in the not too distant future, scientists will be able to develop human looking robots or androids as dance partners and which can do your housekeeping as well. You may even be able to order a dancing robot to match your height, size, temperament, etc. Imagine bringing your own dancing robot to your dance school or social events. You can programme your dance routines into the robot and dance like champions. The best part of it is you can chide the robot and it will never talk back. That would be a blast!

Best Wishes As Usual,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

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