I, Bioloid got the scoop on a cool new project by a student at Purdue University. The idea is to get the DARwIn-OP to play a game of Dance Dance Revolution, which requires the robot to watch the game screen and make the appropriate steps on a pressure-sensitive dance pad.
A typical DDR screen
If you’re new to Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), it’s important to know how the game is played. A steady stream of instructional arrows flow across the screen in four set columns, each pointing in one of four directions (left, right, forward, and back) instructing the player to step in that direction. When the arrows hit the beat line, the player must perform the corresponding step on the dance pad in a fraction of a second, or they’ll eventually fail. What’s more, combinations of arrows require the player to step with both feet simultaneously! Scores are determined by how precisely the player matches the beat. In this case, a custom dance pad has been created to match the DARwIn-OP‘s small stature, and its arms will be fixed to a handlebar with velcro to help with its balance.
In order to keep up, the robot will have to visually track the arrows and anticipate when they’ll hit the beat line so that it can prepare for and make the dance steps in time, just as a human would. As you can see in the example above, the arrows are often obfuscated with your score and grade, and they overlap when steps are placed closely together. A song’s tempo determines the speed of the arrows (and therefore the robot), ensuring the robot’s computer vision and reflexes will be thoroughly tested.
Robots and video games, my two biggest passions. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of DDR but needless to say, this will be a fun project to watch as it develops!