Robotics I

Swarming Robots and Possible Medical Applications by Mohammad Majid al-Rifaie, Ahmed Aber, and Remigijus Raisys/ Speech Prosidy and Emotional Communication in Robots by Aleksandar Zivanovic/ Flying Robotic Arts for HRI and Interface Research by Nicolas Reeves and David St-Onge/ Skediomata: Guinea pig and performer Patrick Tresset, Frederic Fol Leymarie, and Nanda Khaorapapong
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 - 17:00 - 18:20
Chair Person: 
Eric Forman
Mohammad Majid al-Rifaie
Ahmed Aber
Remigijus Raisys
Aleksandar Zivanovic
Nicolas Reeves
David St-Onge
Patrick Tresset
Frederic Fol Leymarie
Nanda Khaorapapong

Swarming Robots and Possible Medical Applications

by Mohammad Majid al-Rifaie, Ahmed Aber, and Remigijus Raisys

In this paper, after introducing a new hybrid algorithm based on Swarm Intelligence, the performance of the newly architectured algorithm is evaluated on a set of autonomous robots (Mr Confused Household robots). The goal of the autonomous robots is to agree on a task and, despite the inevitable existence of “organic” noise in the system, accomplish the mission through communication.

Communication -- social interaction or information exchange -- observed in social insects is important in all swarm intelligence algorithms, including Stochastic Diffusion Search (SDS)[Bishop_1989]. Although as stated in [Kennedy_James_Eberhart_2001], in real social interactions, not just the syntactical information is exchanged between the individuals but also semantic rules and beliefs about how to process this information, in swarm intelligence algorithms only the syntactical exchange of information is considered.

There are different forms of recruitment in social insects: it may take the form of local or global, one-to-one or one-to-many, and stochastic or deterministic mode. The nature of information exchange also varies in different environments and with different types of social insects. Sometimes, the information exchange is more complex where, for example, it might carry data about the direction, suitability of the target and the distance; sometimes the information sharing is simply a stimulation forcing a certain triggered action. What all these recruitment and information exchange strategies have in common is distributing useful information in their community [DeMeyer_Nasuto_Bishop_2006].

In this paper, the behaviour of the robots are explained according to the Mining Game metaphor (for details about this metaphor read [alRifaie_2010]), which provides a simple high-level description of the behaviour of agents in SDS.

This paper is based on a project that involves the use of autonomous swarm robots to evaluate their interactions in the physical world. The main communication channel (one-to-one/one-to-many) is going to be through singing inspired by birds' language. The goal of this project is to study and demonstrate the behaviour of swarm robots using decentralised control mechanism, where intelligence emerges through the interaction and communication among the robots rather than just by the endeavour of one individual robot.

Speech Prosidy and Emotional Communication in Robots

by Aleksandar Zivanovic

This paper presents work investigating the importance of prosidy in speech to communicate emotion. A robot is described which uses bellows to blow air through a slide whistle. By altering a variety of variables, such as the pattern of breathing and position of the slidewhistle, a variety of recognisable emotions can be generated. Its ability to elicit empathy in observers is noted, despite the lack of information communication.

Flying Robotic Arts for HRI and Interface Research

by Nicolas Reeves and David St-Onge

Human-Robot Interactions (HRI) has become a major field of research in both the engineering and artistic realms, even more so in the last decade. The main interests and objectives of the two fields were however quite different. While robotics labs focused more on physical interactions and safety awareness, artists were pursuing more philosophical, symbolical and aesthetical explorations, often supported by an often implicit critical stance. Challenges and stakes have evolved in both fields, following the expansion of robotic devices in about all fields of our daily life, both in the personal and professional spheres. Engineers and researchers are now striving to analyse and predict the way humans will interact with robots in different circumstances, in order to design optimal interaction interfaces and protocols for a huge variety of situations. Collaboration between researcher, artists and engineers has proved to be an efficient way to tackle these new challenges. Public installations in interactive robotic arts provide them with a wealth of objective and empirical data whose analysis and exploitation are likely to produce the next level of understanding in HRI.

This paper will present a successful interdisciplinary art-science-technology project called [VOILES | SAILS] , whose outputs led - and still lead- to an innovative approach in HRI research. The project consists in developing intelligent, geometric objects that hover and move in the air. From their first major performance in the Quebec Museum of Civilization in 2006 until now, several autonomous cube-shaped aerobots have been developed under the artistic direction of their creator, artist and architect Nicolas Reeves, following the technological developments implemented by engineer David St-Onge and the team of the NXI Gestatio Design Lab. They have been used in different performances involving other aerobots, vsitors, performers, actors... Their various sensors make them reactive to light, human voice and several other stimuli, thus increasing their similarities with living organisms despite their all-but-biological shape. This resemblance makes them a perfect platform for exploring human robots interactions in an artificial intelligence, or even artificial life context.

We will discuss the relations that developed between these "aerobots" and visitors, passerbys or actors in different circumstances. They proved a valuable and meaningful source of information and knowledge for the design of Human-Robot Interaction procedures, and demonstrated the rich potential of an artistic approach for the development of new interactions interfaces and behaviors.

Skediomata: Guinea pig and performer

by Patrick Tresset, Frederic Fol Leymarie, and Nanda Khaorapapong

Skediomata, the robotic entity dedicated to the study of drawing was born in research as a guinea pig. Perhaps not surprisingly, it and its siblings have been found to be gifted leading performers when participating in art installations. The original Skediomata is being developed in the context of the AIkon-II research project, a multidisciplinary investigation into sketching from life.

The AIkon-II main research objective is to gain a better understanding of the emergence of style in observational sketches. The methodology deployed to shed light on this complex activity consist of developing a computational model of the various processes at play during the sketching cycle. To better understand the drawing activity it is important to simulate, even if somewhat imperfectly, all the known processes active during the sketching cycle. These include -- perceptual, motor, mnemonic, cognitive -- activities and their interactions including control mechanisms with a focus on those mechanisms relying on feedback data. 

At the start of our AIkon-II project, we had not planned to have a physical embodiment as a robotic entity. But after we experimented with some new hardware and software frameworks, with a view to produce an artistic installation, we realized that it was possible, financially and technically, and further beneficial, in the perspective of simulation, to have a robotic agent version of AIkon-II. By designing specifically the robot to fulfill AIkon's function and using open source libraries, we were able to significantly cut down development and hardware costs. 

Interestingly, when designing a robot that interacts with physical reality, the issues encountered are of a very different nature than if the system is solely computational. It is one of the reasons that lead actors from the artificial intelligence community such as Rodney Brooks at the MIT  do consider that disembodied artificial intelligence is essentially flawed. Looking at drawing as a complex sensorimotor activity brings new insights into the processes we are investigating and into ways to model these. Furthermore, the type of software architecture that supports communications by distributed concurrently running processes as used in contemporary robotics is well adapted to the simulation of an activity recognized has being the result of the interaction and cooperation of multiple processes such as sketching . 

Apart from being an essential and influential “guinea pig” that furthers our research, due to the fascination that robots exerts on the public, Skediomata has proven to also be an excellent ambassador to promote AIkon-II's work. Furthermore due to its low cost and the type of software architecture developed, groups of Skediomatas feasibly collaborate as performers in art installations. 

In this paper after a brief historical introduction of drawing machines and laying out possible avenues to explain the performative qualities of Skediomata, we present a comprehensive description of the Skediomata platform. We then describe two recent artistic installations presented in 2010 and hint at the future.