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Which clippings match 'Robot Machines' keyword pg.1 of 1
13 FEBRUARY 2015

The Creepy Collective Behavior of Boston Dynamics' New Robot Dog

"Robotics company Boston Dynamics has a new four–legged addition to its family: a 160–pound quadruped named Spot...

We know from Spot's reaction to that kick that he can dynamically correct his stability–behavior that's modeled after biological systems. From what Couzin can tell, the robots' collective movement is an organic outgrowth of that self–correction. When the two Spots collide at the 1:25 mark, they're both able to recover quickly from the nudge and continue on their route up the hill. 'But the collision does result in them tending to align with one another (since each pushes against the other),' Couzin wrote in an email. 'That can be an important factor: Simple collisions among individuals can result in collective motion.'

In Couzin's research on locusts, for example, the insects form plagues that move together by just barely avoiding collisions. 'Recently, avoidance has also been shown to allow the humble fruit fly to make effective collective decisions,' he wrote.

It doesn't look like Spot is programmed to work with his twin brothers and sisters–but that doesn't matter if their coordination emerges naturally from the physical rules that govern each individual robot. Clearly, bumping into each other isn't the safest or most efficient way to get your robot army to march in lock step, but it's a good start. And it's relatively easy to imagine several Spots working together in organized ways if the LIDAR sensors fitted on their 'heads' were programmed to create avoidance behaviors–like those locusts–rather than simply reacting to collisions.

Spot's life–like motions are uncanny, but when you add this emergent, collective behavior–which can sometimes be unpredictable–the possibilities get downright scary. Will Spot's group dynamics stop at the point of swarming like locusts? (Ominous.) Will they cluster into self–protecting balls like sardines? (Less so.) Or could they end up as smart and responsive as humans?

Couzin goes so far as to call this bump–and–grind between Spots One and Two a social interaction. 'No matter how primitive, there's no doubt that these interactions could enhance the decision–making capabilities of such robots when they must make their own, autonomous, decisions in an uncertain world,' he wrote. We'll just have to hope that decision–making involves not trampling us when a pack of Spots starts stampeding like wildebeest."

(Neel V. Patel, 11 February 2015 Wired News)

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TAGS

2015animal locomotionartificial lifeautomataautonomous creature • avoidance behaviour • biological systems • Boston Dynamics • bumping • collective animal behavior • collective behaviour • collective decisions • collective motion • collective movement • collision detection • decision-making capabilitiesdogfruit flyherd • Iain Couzin • LIDARlocomotionmechanical being • nudge • physical rules • quadruped • robot army • robot dog • robot machinesrobotic creaturerobotics • self-correction • social interactionspeculative engineering • Spot (robot) • stabilityswarming • swarming locusts • walkingWired (magazine) • Wired News

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
06 JANUARY 2013

Machines replace humans: heavy metal robot 3-piece

"I'm impressed with Compressorhead – the three–piece robot band (three and a half if you count the little robot who drives one of the cymbals). I went to their website to see if I could discern the origins of the project, DIY, corporate, academic, or whatever and couldn't really find anything on the makers. Then I tracked down the drummer. Stickboy was created by Robocross Machines and a whimsical roboticist named Frank Barnes. ... Reminds me of the Survival Research Labs robot machines, built for public performance and disturbance."

(Maxwell Schnurer, 5 January 2013, Life of refinement)

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TAGS

3-piece band • AC/DC • Ace of Spades • androidautomateautomationband • Compressorhead • computer controlled musical instrumentcybernetic artcymbals • disturbance • drummereffigyengineering • Frank Barnes • futuristic machinesGermanheavy metalhi-hathumanoid automatonindustrialisationkinetic automatonmachineman machinemechanism • metal band • MIDI • mohawke • Motorhead • musical instrumentplay • public performance • Robocross Machines • robot • robot band • robot machinesroboticrobotic artroboticistsimulationspeculative design • Stickboy • Survival Research Labs • TNT • whimsicalwhimsical interactions

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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