ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Creative robotics symposium

By Tony Hirst
First anniversary issue, [Vol. 2, No. 4]

DOI: 10.1145/1037851.1037861

Over the last few years, robotic and animatronic technologies have been increasingly used in the creative and entertainment industries. Continuing miniaturisation and ever more powerful programmable ICs mean that animatronic models, once the province of remote control, are now ever more capable of operating responsively and autonomously. Recent advances in robotics related technologies and design approaches, coupled with reasonable, increasing expectations of what robots are capable of makes the identification of a coherent field of creative robotics particularly timely.

This Symposium seeks to bring together academic researchers, industry representatives and arts practitioners to explore the expressive potential of 'creative robotics' technologies in both small works and in the wider context of the creative and entertainment industries. To date, the field of creative robotics, and the corresponding opportunities for cross-sector networking, are largely overlooked. Interestingly, the British Council's recently produced opt-in, informal audit of UK robotics does recognize such a sector, even taking a "Creative Robotics" roadshow to China in 2003. However, the emphasis there largely concentrated on exploiting the popularity of television programmes such as Robot Wars and Technogames, rather than directly promoting the highly refined robotics related technologies developed within academia and the creative and entertainment industries.

A Government sponsored mapping document defining the creative industries currently includes "Interactive Leisure Software", "Software and Computer Services", "Film and Video", "Crafts" and "Design" but does not mention robotics as such. The Symposium will help promote "Creative Robotics, Mechatronics, and Animatronics" as an area worthy of recognition in forthcoming Creative Industries Mapping exercises.

Studies of future markets for robotic products have identified entertainment robots as being one of the most likely to succeed in early markets. An example is Sony's robot dog Aibo. Public acceptance of entertainment and domestic robots is critically dependent on their look and feel. Artists are needed to make the appearance of these robots friendly and appealing while often, but not always, keeping their robotic basis evident. This symposium seeks to bring together the disparate robot and artistic communities for the mutual benefit of creative robotics and to present a more positive image of robotics and the robotics community.

The symposium will aim to foster closer relationships between science, technology and arts/performance research sectors as well as the creative industries and act as a launchpad for technology transfer from academic research into creative applications.

This is likely to be beneficial on several grounds:

- much research output never it makes it out of the lab, or further into the public domain than academic conferences or publications. Creative and 'artistic' demonstrations open up new application areas and provide an accessible way of engaging the public and revealing to them something of the potential of a particular piece of research.

- applications and themed activities provide a rich and highly motivating context for learning about, developing and applying techniques 'for real' in an educational setting. The Symposium will therefore provide an opportunity to develop and publicise technologies for teaching robotics and using robotics as a creative educational tool.

-The UK Government set up NESTA the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts with the specific aim of funding co-operative activities between scientists, engineers and artists. This symposium responds to that interest.

The Symposium will therefore provide an opportunity for robotics researchers to describe creative applications of their research effort as well as discussing technical issues and approaches that are relevant to the use of robotics in the creative industries and entertainment sectors.

Members of the recently established EPSRC funded Creative Robotics Research Network are strongly encouraged to attend the event.

- advanced Animatronics for Television, Art Galleries, Theatres, Amusement Parks and Museums

- state-of-the-art presentation robots

- Cybernetic art/robots as artwork

- robot music

- artwork creating robots/robot painting

- educational robots

- human robot interaction

- robot tour guides

- public engagement with robotics and engineering, mechatronics and animatronics

- public robot competitions

- public demonstrations of simulated intelligent behaviour

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