How dance could make robots more human-friendly - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

How dance could make robots more human-friendly

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(AP/Meredith) -- A guiding hand to learn the moves in one of humanity's most ancient traditions - dance.

But it's not always easy teaching a robot to hit the dancefloor.

Choreographer Vicki Van Hout is helping Baxter to get into the groove.

"I want to be graceful, because I'm a dancer so to me it's kind of like when you see a cat that falls over and it's peeved with itself, sometimes that's what it's like to me," says Van Hout.

Baxter's dance lessons are part of a research project to find out how to make robots more friendly, headed by the University of Canberra's Dr Damith Herath.

"It's a long drawn process but trying to understand what kind of robots work. Does a humanoid work, like the one behind me, or something a bit more cute and cuddly?" says roboticist Dr Damith Herath.

Baxter was once an industrial robot.

He's been saved from a life of monotony, but he's not ready for the human world just yet.

That's what this experiment is for - to make Baxter more intuitive.

"So all these nuanced measures that we need to understand before we can actually bring these robots into a human space, and part of that process is to try with performers, so we can understand how they feel about it," says Dr Herath.

Social robotics are still early in their evolution, but observing how people react to them is vital to developing more intuitive machines.

Baxter's next move will be meeting the public.

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