Robots dance for research purposes
The robots by Boston Dynamics regularly attract attention on the internet. They can do acrobatic tricks, walk like humans, open doors and now even dance. This is demonstrated by “robot dog” Spot.
Spot moves on four legs and thus looks a bit like a (somewhat awkward) dog. It is designed for indoor and outdoor use and can move surprisingly skilfully even in difficult terrain.
Now the robot has also learned to dance. This can be seen in a video in which Spot sways to the beat of “Uptown Funk” and performs funny dance moves. Some of his movements are even reminiscent of Twerking (the rhythmic movement of the buttocks) or of Michael Jackson's famous Moonwalk.
While these moves seem to be pre-programmed, there is already another robot dog called ANYmal that can dance intuitively. Although these movements do not look quite as cool as Spot's, it's more impressive from a technical point of view.
Researchers at the Swiss university ETH Zürich have taught the robot how to dance. In contrast to Spot, ANYmal does not recall programmed dance moves, but reacts independently to the music. The difficulty is that the robot first has to analyse the beat of the music and then plan its movements. During the dance, the robot has to constantly check whether it moves in time to the music and has to adapt the moves accordingly.
This may seem funny to the observer, but has a much deeper dimension for the researchers: the technique behind the execution of the movement should enable robots in the future to independently evaluate how certain tasks can be solved best.