One of the most interesting aspects is the modular design. As seen in the video linked above, the shells are easily changed out to create different looks, changing from male to female for example. Another unique characteristic is the facial features. They had the goal of having “no holes” in the face, which lead to a magnetic actuation design for the facial features (lips,brows). This was fun to see working, since its an idea we have been playing around with independently.
Looking forward to seeing more about what comes from the FloBi project!
“Shimon is an autonomous marimba-playing robot designed to create interactions with human players that lead to novel musical outcomes. The robot combines music perception, interaction, and improvisation with the capacity to produce melodic and harmonic acoustic responses through choreographic gestures. We developed an anticipatory action framework, and a gesture-based behavior system, allowing the robot to play improvised Jazz with humans in synchrony, fluently, and without delay. In addition, we built an expressive non-humanoid head for musical social communication.”
The new head is particularly nice–a 6-degree of freedom addition, that aesthetically matches the industrial looking mallet arms. It uses the camera in the head to perceive other band members, and times its head beats to the music. As they say, the purpose of the head is to create the social responsiveness and reaction that the other humans in the jazz group expect from a teammate.
And I’m not the only one who thinks they did a nice job on the social cues, the local Atlanta news anchors liked it too (though they did list the article under the heading “bizarre”).
Update: This work just received a best paper award at ICRA 2010, congrats to Guy and Gil!