Skip to content

September 25, 2018

This mirror-wielding robot arm behaves in a freakily lifelike manner

by John_A

Whether it’s the weird, illogical sympathy you feel when a robot dog is kicked or the unsettling “uncanny valley” effect when computer graphics come close to generating a human face, but just falls short, there is some weird territory to investigate when it comes to the creation of lifelike machines. That’s something that German-based artist Piet Schmidt explores with his new work, “Encounter.”

Taking the form of a robot arm holding a mirror, the robot will respond to people by angling the mirror in their direction. So far, so typical smart home device, right? Perhaps, but the really intriguing part of “Encounter” is the strangely lifelike way in which it reacts. Like a nervous animal, it will retract in a seemingly fearful manner as a person approaches, but then follow them with apparent curiosity if they back up. After a while, it will even get used to them and start acting playful, angling the mirror in different ways as it does.

“I am interested in how humans build connections and [relate] to machines,” Schmidt told Digital Trends. “Certain behaviors and appearances seem to trigger humans to interpret intentions or even emotions in inanimate objects. I want to create an encounter between people and a machine — an encounter evoking an uncanny feeling that will let you [feel] torn between treating it like a machine or a living being. It leaves us confused [regarding] our intuitive perception that is trained to distinguish animate from inanimate.”

On a technical level, the arm is actuated using networked smart servos, inverse kinematic algorithms, and 3D noise fields. Meanwhile, the head-tracking and mirror aligning is achieved using an Xbox Kinect. The result is impressively naturalistic in its movement: building on the idea that the machine is somewhat alive. This is bolstered by the use of the mirror which, Schmidt said, is intended to make us feel as if we are forming a complete entity with the machine — with our own face becoming its face.

“[“Encounter”] has been premiered at Rundgang, the annual exhibition of the University of the Arts, Berlin,” Schmidt said. “I am looking forward to [exhibiting at] media art events, though no dates can be confirmed at this point.”

Editors’ Recommendations

  • It’s curtains for Kuri: Work ceased on robot companion project
  • Moxi the ‘friendly’ hospital robot wants to help nurses, not replace them
  • This myth-inspired, karate-chopping centaur robot could save your life one day
  • Stanford A.I. can realistically score computer animations just by watching them



Advertisements
Read more from News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: