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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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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
12 MARCH 2012

What Dreams May Come: imagining a painted world through vfx

"Ward's 'What Dreams May Come,' starring Robin Williams was nominated for production design in addition to winning an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The film, tells an epic love story of soul mates separated by death. The story would inspire Ward to envision the afterlife as a painted world, incorporating state–of–the–art, adapted, and entirely new visual effects technologies in an original, fully articulated, filmic view of imagined realms that may await us after death."

(Saville Productions)

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1998after deathafterlifeallegory • Annabella Sciorra • Aotearoa New Zealandboundary-crossingcontemplating mortality • Cuba Gooding Jr. • deathdreamemotion • eternity • Eurydiceexpressionexpressionisticexternalisationfantasyfantasy about deathfictional worldfilmflowerflowersheavenhellin the mindin transitin-limbointernal quest • Joel Hynek • Josh Rosen • LIDARlifelove storymemorymilestonemortalitymoving paintingNew Zealand filmmaker • Nick Brooks • oozingOrpheusOscarpaintpaint our own surroundingspainted worldpainting • Pierre Jasmin • psychologyremembrance • representing emotions • Richard Matheson • Robin Williams • romantic love • Ronald Bass • Scott Huntsman • self-realisationSFXsoulmatesspecial effectssurrealisticthemethreshold spaceunderworldVFXVincent Wardvisceral experiencevisual effectsvisual metaphorvisual spectacle • What Dreams May Come (1998) • wifeworld of the story

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
13 NOVEMBER 2009

Radiohead: 'House of Cards' music video created using Geometric Informatics and LIDAR

"Radiohead just released a new video for its song 'House of Cards' from the album 'In Rainbows'.

No cameras or lights were used. Instead two technologies were used to capture 3D images: Geometric Informatics and Velodyne LIDAR. Geometric Informatics scanning systems produce structured light to capture 3D images at close proximity, while a Velodyne Lidar system that uses multiple lasers is used to capture large environments such as landscapes. In this video, 64 lasers rotating and shooting in a 360 degree radius 900 times per minute produced all the exterior scenes."

(Google)

[In the search for new ways of 'telling the same story' Radiohead have managed to provide the necessary spectacle through their redeployment of surveying technology in their 'House of Cards' music video.]

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20083DAaron Koblinanalogue correspondence • camera-free • cinematographycontourcontour linesdatadesigndevice • drawing with light • form • Geometric Informatics • graphic representation • HDL-64E • information aesthetics • James Frost • laserLIDAR • LIght Detection And Ranging • mappingmathematicsmusic videopattern • Radiohead • relief • remote sensing • sensorspacespectacle • surveying • surveyor • technology • Thom Yorke • topographic data • topography • Velodyne • visual communicationvisualisation • Zoo films

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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