Everyday objects can be animated to improve their functionalities and to provide a more interesting environment. Moreover, it is interesting to explore new interaction situations. Proper design of shape and interaction is needed to obtain interesting objects. Emotional expression is an interesting aspect to explore.
We have developed a couple of emotional trash bins, going around to invite to trash selected materials by using the lid movements and sounds, a coat-hanger (IGHOR), welcoming people entering and asking to have their coats, showing sadness if they keep it on, a naughty fan, coming close and suddenly investing the person with an air flow, a naughty money saver that has to be chased to give it money, a kind of pillow that react with sounds to the way it is touched.
Robots can be used as artistic media, able to perform and interact with people in artistic representations.
We have developed the first steps that will bring to the development of an autonomous robotic actor, able to participate to a public representation either with a defined role and script, or, as a final goal, as an Improv actor able to adapt the performance to external stimuli. For the moment we have a developed a robot that is able to move in classical scenes (e.g. the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet) selecting the proper emotional expressions for the situation, and a framework to define emotional expressions according to the social setting among characters, and the situation. The final step to obtain a robotic actor to play scripted scenes is under development.
Interactive robotic art
Robots can have different shapes and play different roles in interactive artistic performances. We are exploiting materials like nets, polyethilene sheets, polyurethane foams and other materials to obtain shapes interesting to move in interactive exhibits. Emotional expression is also in this area, an interesting feature to explore.
METRICS (Metrological Evaluation and Testing of Robots in International CompetitionS) organises challenge-led and industry-relevant competitions in the four Priority Areas (PAs) identified by ICT-09-2019-2020: Healthcare, Infrastructure Inspection and Maintenance (I&M), Agri-Food, and Agile Production.
Within METRICS, AIRLab is in charge of the ACRE (Agri-food Competition for Robot Evaluation) competition, dedicated to benchmarking agricultural robots.
ALMA (Ageing Without Losing Mobility and Autonomy) is a European project focused on supporting the autonomous mobility, navigation, and orientation of the mobility-impaired person (elderly and/or temporarily or permanently disabled person).
The ALMA system is a modular combination of advanced hardware and software technologies into an integrated and modular cost-effective system. AIRLab contributed to ALMA with its Personal Mobility Kit.
By analyzing the image from the onboard camera, the drone maintains the distance from the player, keeping it always in the image, and moving slightly left and right as to look for the best position to shot. When appropriate, it makes a sound with its propeller, simulating a laser shot, and the player has to parry it by putting the light saber in front of her/his chest.
The drone is intrinsically adapting to the style of movement of the player: a more active player will have to face a more active trainer.
Robotower is a game where an omnidirectional robot and a human player confront in a playground 4×4 m, having four towers on the corners. Aim of the robot is to knock down the towers. Aim of the human player is to defend the towers for at least 3′ by intercepting the robot’s path. The human player can also push a button on the tower, this will lit a LED every 2.5″; when all four LEDs are lit, the human player has conquered the tower, and the robot cannot aim at it any longer. Of course, while the player pushes a button the robot may aim at another tower.
The system can estimate the the player’s skill on line and modify the capabilities of the robot to obtain an even game, in accordance to the theory of flow. There is also the possibility to trigger deceptive actions, which reinforce even more the sensation to play against a rational agent.