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Faculty of Engineering creates autonomous robot dancer

25 February 2009 Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto

Built from a simple Lego NXT kit, the new robotic system designed by a student of FEUP identify different types of dance and music in an intelligent manner and fully autonomous. Counting now with a FCT scholarship, the next step is to create and manage choreography between humanoid robots.

The project started just over a year and is already a successful example of the application of advanced concepts of artificial intelligence. Under its final course project, João Oliveira, a student finalist at the Masters in Integrated Electrical Engineering of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), decided to implement in a simple Lego NXT kit a software similar to the one that is developed in robotic soccer (where the School of Engineering has collected trophies both national and worldwide).

The result of this combination of mathematical algorithms with a little explored area in the robotic world - the music - is now in sight: a robot that applies algorithms to the level of perception of rhythmic musical notes, with an integrated system for intelligent hearing. The whole system of dance is essentially reactive, since the robot reacts in sync with different stimuli (either musical or related to the colour of the dance floor), expressing the movement of dance priori defined by the user.

With the guidance of researchers Luís Paulo Reis (FEUP/LIACC) and Fabien Gouyon (INESC Porto), the next step is to create and manage choreographies between humanoid robots, something that John Oliveira is already doing in its Doctoral Program in Computer Science, funded with a grant from FCT. Despite still being in a laboratory phase, this project distinguishes itself, according to this student, "by presenting an application and a modular interface that allows some flexibility and interaction from the user on the behaviour of the robot, defining the movement that it should express home set of stimuli”.

The fact that the robot is built from a simple Lego NXT kit presenting a design for the ad-hoc application of any type of dance, may lead young people to be interested in this issue and decide to build their own robot. With diverse applications in the field of entertainment - there are even competitions for robotics dance, as it exists within the RoboCup Junior - this robot allows students of different ages to create their own dances and records, interacting with interdisciplinary teaching in different areas such as robotics, music, rhythm, dance and movement optimization.

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