Researchers at the University of Tokyo have launched a dancing robot that acts like a human dancer, strutting its stuff across the dance floor on demand.
Although there’s no solid use case for the robot, it does demonstrate that the energy doesn’t need to come from the feet when exploring how robots work. The legs can use the upwards thrust of the quadcopter to bounce across the floor’s surfacing giving the impression of bobbing on water’s surface.
The legs are powered by servos though, meaning they have a full range of movement, even if they’re not providing the direct stability.
One of the robot’s developers, Azumi Maekawa, said the group wanted to develop a robot that has the ability to display the appearance of bipedal walking with dynamic mobility, and to provide a new visual experience.
“The robot enables walking motion with very slender legs like those of a flamingo without impairing dynamic mobility,” he explained in an interview with IEEE Spectrum. “This approach enables casual users to choreograph biped robot walking without expertise.”
The researchers explained that many robots rely on having long, thin legs to keep them as light as possible, but relying on them to provide movement can sometimes have the opposite effect and if they move too fast, the robot will fall over its own legs. Because the quadcopter in the University of Tokyo’s robot takes the pressure off those limbs, it’s more stable.
“Although it is at a prototype stage now, in the future, an entertainment application such as performance or animatronics can be considered,”Maekawa added. “We aim to develop a biped robot that has the ability to display desired motions, including various dances, in addition to walking.
He also suggested the robot could be used in virtual reality applications, combining VR with the physical world by enabling movements that have previously been impossible.