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Dancing robots anyone?



A man from Massachusetts, United States, who designed some of the world’s most advanced dynamic robots, just did that when he managed to program his creations to dance to the beat with a mix of fluid, explosive and expressive motions that are almost human.

The results? Almost a year and half of choreography, simulation, programming and upgrades that were capped by two days of filming to produce a video running at less than three minutes. The clip, showing robots dancing to the 1962 hit “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours, was an instant hit on social media, attracting more than 23 million views during the first week.

It shows two of Boston Dynamics’ humanoid Atlas research robots doing the twist, the mashed potato and other classic moves, joined by Spot, a doglike robot, and Handle, a wheeled robot designed for lifting and moving boxes in a warehouse or truck.

Boston Dynamics founder and chairperson Marc Raibert said what the robot maker learned was far more valuable: the need to upgrade the robot in the middle of development in order for it to be strong enough and to have enough energy to do the whole performance without stopping.

The difficult challenge of teaching robots to dance, according to Raibert, also pushed Boston Dynamics engineers to develop better motion-programming tools that let robots reconcile balance, bouncing and doing a performance simultaneously.

The quality of the robots’ dancing was so good that some viewers online said they couldn’t believe their eyes. Some applauded the robots’ moves and the technology powering them. Others appeared to be freaked out by some of their expressive routines.

Others added that what they were seeing was probably computer-generated imagery, or CGI.

Meanwhile, a Filipino engineer from Manila created last year a service assistant robot not to dance and entertain people but to help medical frontliners attend to their patients and reduce the risk of them contacting the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

University of Santo Tomas assistant professor and engineer Anthony James Bautista is the visionary behind the telepresence robot that delivers medicine and allows health workers to communicate with patients remotely.

Bautista, who drew inspiration to create the robot after his conversation with a doctor, said such can be reproduced for other hospitals to use as a way to also protect their doctors and nurses from getting infected with the deadly virus as they tend to those who are sick and need medical attention.

Having doctors communicate and deliver medicine to the patients remotely is one way of reducing contact with them.

The science of robotics not only helps and assists humans in every aspect of life, but also provides some form of entertainment to us.