Dancing robot struts its stuff
Luffy Thursday, August 09, 2007 TechnologyWhile it is unlikely to win any prizes in this year's 'Strictly Come Dancing', scientists in Japan have designed a robot that can accurately imitate a traditional Japanese folk dance.
Researchers from Tokyo University used video capture techniques to program the hulking 58kg 'dancebot' to record human dance movement.
According to New Scientist magazine these video captures are then fed into the robot's processors and translated into a convincing rendition of the traditional 'aizu bandaisan' folk dance.
The dancebot - or Promet as it is officially known - is no John Travolta yet, however.
While it can mimic the hypnotic upper-body sway of the folk dance, the robot remains rather leaden-footed on the dancefloor and its robotic legs struggle to keep up with complicated dance steps.
The video-capture technique could one day be used to produce robots that can accurately replicate a human's moevements in a factory production line, for example.
Despite the Promet's impressive dance routinue it is still a long way from being a true, intelligent robot.
"It is not a thinking intelligent robot. What you have got is a set of processes that translate human movement into joint movements for a robot. That is it," said Professor Sharkey, a robotics expert from Sheffield University.
"It is not going to start copying people doing other things or doing anything really advanced."