How to Make a Humanoid Robot Dance

2 11 2010

Japanese roboticists just showed off a female android singing and dancing with a group of human performers. Video of the entertaining and surprisingly realistic manifestation received millions of views on the Internet. Below we describe that how they did it.

The clandestine behind the dance routine is not the hardware but is software. Certainly, the hardware plays a key role. The AIST humanoids group is one of the world’s top places for robot design. Their HRP-2 humanoids are extensively used in research. Group’s latest humanoids, the HRP-4 and a female variant, the HRP-4C, which is the robot in the dance demo, are even more striking.

But now the leading modernization is new software to program the actions of the robot. The software is parallel to those popularly used in CG character animation. Just there is a need to click on the legs, arms, head, or torso and drag them to the position you want. You make a sequence of key poses and the software produces the trajectories and low-level control to make the robot move.

The software confirms that the robot can certainly carry out the transitions from one pose to the next. If the angular velocity or range of one of the joints surpasses the maximum values, the software adjusts the pose, so that it’s feasible to execute.

The software is also able to observe the robot’s stability. When it produces a trajectory between two key poses, it verifies that the waist trajectory won’t generate instabilities and that foot trajectories will result in sufficient contact with the floor. If a pose is not secure, the software hits upon a parallel pose that would keep the robot in balance.

After creating a series you can preview the ensuing motion on a 3D simulator or if you have and HRP-4C you can upload the code to the robot and watch its dance.

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