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Military-Free Biomorphic Robotics (with video!)


I could not wait to post about the cute, cuddly little yellow robot pictured above. This is partly because of the the last few robotics posts being about the appropriation of robotics technology by the military for, you know, killing people and such. But there is so much more to what robotics offers beyond being another weapons platform. I was excited to post this also partly because of a post over at our friend about robots and music. Allow me to introduce Keepon, the name of the cute yellow bugger up there in the photo.

First, a little on biomorphic robotics, a sub-discipline of robotics focused on emulating the mechanics, sensor systems, computing structures and methodologies used by animals. In short, this is the science of building robots inspired by the principles of biological systems. Sounds simple, but obviously it’s not. We “animals” are immensely complex and high maintenance organisms, and as advanced as electronics, processors and robotics might be it is still a challenge to make them more like us. I suppose that is why so many robots still look like wheelbarrows and vacuum cleaners. Researchers involved in biomorphic robotics believe that identifying the underlying rhythm in human communications may help robots to interact in ways that are more natural and acceptable to humans, and less like the dominant overlords they are sure to become.

Keepon was introduced earlier this year and is the result of collaboration between two robotics researchers from different sides of the Pacific, at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and of the National Institute of Communications Technology in Japan. Their work was to synchronize the movements of this robot with sound, with rhythm and ultimately with music in an effort to make robots seem less like robots, and perhaps more like cute little yellow anthropomorphic buggers. Anyway, we all recognize that dancing is an engaging activity, it is disarming and fun to both watch and to participate in. Marek and Hideki concluded that the same might well work for robots and make them seem more disarming and fun. You be the judge, but please check out Keepon dancing to Spoon’s .

There are more with Keepon shaking it in the name of research.

3 Responses to “Military-Free Biomorphic Robotics (with video!)”

  1. Nick Says:

    Oh man! That is great! It’s so complex and yet so simple. Fantastic!

  2. John Schneider Says:

    But wait, there’s more! I could commit an entire blog to cool robotic developments. Things are reaching critical mass in robotic technologies development, and not just due to the loving gaze of the military industrial complex.

  3. We’ve Been Quietly Infiltrated - schneiderism Says:

    [...] starring in music [...]

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