Artbots: The Robot Talent Show
It’s been a couple of months since I’ve gotten the chance to write any new programs for my Lego Mindstorms robot. The Artbots were in town this weekend, and I thought that would be the perfect place to get some excellent inspiration.
Artbots is an international art exhibition for robotic art & art-making robots. It was held at the Science Gallery in Trinity College, and if you’ve never been to the Science Gallery you should make it over for their next exhibition. It’s a great space on Pearse Street (with a nice cafe, too) where they hold cool events like this and TechnoThreads, a wearable technology show they had earlier this year.
I was glad I brought my camera along. There were a lot of cool robots to check out. I held this device, called Momo, which sits in your hands to help you find a location. It leans toward your destination, vibrates and helps move you to where you want to go. I shook hands with an eerily attentive alien-looking baby. I played improv drums via computer.
Another artistic robot makes a statement by creating a physical manifestation of kills during the play of a video game (Counterstrike). It detects when players kill each other and communicates with various valves containing fake blood, instructing them to discharge a portion of it. That one was a bit freaky, especially since the fake blood containers really did look a bit like real blood donor bags.
One of the really fun robots was the Rubot II, a scary-faced robot which turned out to just want to solve your Rubiks Cube. Rubot has a built-in efficient algorithm for solving Rubiks Cubes. He uses cameras in his eyes to scan the Cube first to determine its initial state, and then solves it in an average of 35 seconds.
But my favorite robot has to be IC Hexapod, a spidery-looking hexapod which can detect people’s faces and study them. You know how when you look at a dog, and the dog sometimes follows your face as you move around a room? IC Hexapod does that perfectly. It will lock onto a face and appear to study it. What it’s really doing is tracking the face and taking a picture of it, which it uploads to its website. IC Hexapod is really a beautiful-looking robot, and it’s the movements that really got me, as it does seem to move like a real insect or spider.