IDC Media Innovation Lab
Animation Techniques for Designing and Controlling Expressive Robots
Designing robots for human interaction is a multifaceted challenge, balancing both appearance and behavioral requirements. A robot’s appearance evokes interaction affordances and triggers emotional responses; its behavior communicates internal states, and can support action coordination and joint planning. Good HRI design should enlist both to enable humans to work fluently and intuitively with the robot.
This talk presents the design and control approach we have been using in the past decade to develop several non-humanoid robotic systems. Both design and control are inspired by traditional and computer character animation techniques.
The underlying principles of both appearance and behavioral design are movement and timing, acknowledging that human perception is highly sensitive to spatial cues, physical movement, and visual affordances.
We design our robots’ appearance using 3D animation and industrial design techniques. Gestures, movements, and behaviors drive decisions on the robot’s surface and mechanical design. Starting from freehand sketches, the robot’s personality is built as a computer animated character, setting the parameters and limits of the robot’s degrees of freedom. Then, material and form studies are combined with functional requirements to settle on the final system design. We will exemplify this process on the design of five non-humanoid robots.We will then discuss how animation techniques and principles of embodiment are used in the real-time control of expressive and performance robots, including music and theater robots.
BIO: Guy Hoffman is an expert on designing expressive, interactive robots. His talk will address approaches to design and animation, including animation sketches and software, video prototyping, puppeteering, and other approaches to robot design that support well-designed robot motion and fluid interactions.