Robots Dance To Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' Using Quorum Sensing To Stay In Step
This dance routine may be cute and entertaining, but for once, Internet eye candy is not entirely useless.
Scientists at MIT's Nonlinear Networks Lab have programmed a troupe of humanoid Nao robots -- made by
a French company called Aldebaran-- to dance in synchrony to Michael Jackson's mega-hit "Thriller."
While at first glance this might not seem any more exciting than a flash mob, Time's Techland blog notes "these machines can actually judge if they are a step or two behind the rest of the dancers and catch up."
So does that mean they're... thinking? Well, only on about the level of bacteria. MIT's Patrick Bechon and Jean-Jacques Slotine programmed the robots to utilize quorum sensing, which means that individual robots emit and receive data to figure out what others in the group are doing. Similar communication is used by bacteria and social insects. Phys.Org explains:By comparison, the robot "swarm" synchronizes with a global average time kept by a central server. But instead of being slaves to a master signal, the robots contribute to the average. So while they are all marching to the same beat, each robot has his own drum.
"...organisms emit a small number of molecules into the environment which the others can sense. The more members of the group, the more molecules are present, which lets each member know how many others are there and when it’s time to do something."
"If the connection to the central [server] is lost, the robots simply continue with routine but without centralised synchrony," according to the MIT Technology Review.
In the video, a man purposefully disrupts a robot mid-performance. The little guy takes a minute to get his bearings, but it eventually rejoins the troupe perfectly on beat.
Yes, the dance is pretty cool to watch, but advances in robotics technology could mean big things for the future, too. If humanoid robots can be synchronized to do the same task, then they can be synchronized to do related tasks, creating opportunities for applications in industries like manufacturing and construction, according to the MIT Technology Review.
WATCH: 'Thriller' Dancing Robots Stay In Step With Quorum Sensing:
Uploaded by AldebaranRobotics
At the beginning all the robots are waiting for my signal to start. While dancing, they are constantly synchronizing with each other, so if a robot lags behind they will wait for him and the late robot will accelerate. When I remove a robot from the choreography, the others continue dancing. When he stands up again and resumes his dance, he asks the others for a starting position. Then he goes to this position, and starts dancing. Since he starts with a little latency, he will dances a little faster and the others a little slower to synchronize.
The music is played by another robot, and is a part of the synchronization process : the robots are synchronizing with the music too.
This work is the result of the collaboration between the Nonlinear System Laboratory at MIT (http://web.mit.edu/nsl/www/) and Aldebaran Robotics.
Uploaded by TheBarneysPlace on Oct 3, 2011NAO H25 is a trusted platform for education and research in various topics, from robotics and computer science to autism and human-robot interaction. NAOH25 is ALDEBARAN Robotics' most advanced robot. This fully-featured humanoid robot provides an open platform with full integration of state-of-the-art hardware and softwares.