AIST’s HRP-4C demonstrated her acting ability at the Digital Content EXPO 2009 (Oct. 22nd~24th) by performing choreographed skits with voice and gestures. The demonstration, hot on the heels of CEATEC’s singing performance, highlighted the robot’s potential as an Entertainment Robot. A panel which included actress Sayuri Watanabe (who supplied the robot’s voice), Mr.SAM (dance choreographer), and researchers from AIST (Mr.Yokoi Kazuhito) and Tokyo University’s IRT Laboratory (Mr. Masaru Ishikawa) discussed their “Dancing Robot Project”, which will see the HRP-4C perform a full body dance routine sometime next year.
Mr.SAM lamented the robot’s lack of sophisticated facial expressions, and that limitations such as its inability to bend its fingers meant motions looked less natural than he had hoped. The HRP-4C was also rigidly suspended to prevent it from falling over, limiting its motions to the upper body only. He also remarked that the human head and neck are capable of very fine movements, which currently aren’t possible on the robot. Despite these complications, a full body dance should be possible given the HRP-2 Promet’s dance in 2005 – which was created using motion-capture data of a real dance instructor adapted to the robot. While the HRP-4C is more flexible than the HRP-2 Promet, its slim design required smaller, less powerful motors unsuitable for very fast movements.
Mr. Yokoi Kazuhito explained the different methods for creating the scripted performances. Motion-capture is less time-consuming but it requires a sophisticated set-up, whereas AIST’s proprietary motion editor allows anyone with a PC to create motion skits. Mr. Shinichiro Nakaoka (AIST Humanoid Research Group) created some simple motions by keying joint positions similar to a CG animator. These were then immediately played back using the software’s dynamic simulation to see how the motion looked. The software allows motions created on one side of the body to be mirrored to the other side if symmetry is required. A handy software feature automatically adjusted the motion to ensure the robot maintained its balance at all times. Mr. Nakaoka stated he is hopeful a stable software release would be publicly available on their website sometime next year (though you can download it now, the HRP-4C model file is not included).
They went on to discuss the future of the robotics industry, and the need for many creators actively developing content for the platform, similar to the iphone’s app store. Applications for various situations could be shared or sold to increase a robot’s capabilities around the home, for example. The key will be attracting creators and giving them tools that are simple enough for anyone to use.
[source: Impress Robot Watch(JP)]
Impress Robot Watch