Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

August 11th, 2011

Robots: Robot Art I

This episode is the first of a three part special series about robot art with guest interviewer David St-Onge, an engineer working at the interface of visionary arts and creative science. You might remember David from a previous interview with the Robots Podcast. He now brings us into his world of robot art through in-depth conversations with 6 world renowned experts in the field. In today’s show, we talk to Nicolas Reeves from the University of Quebec in Montreal, Canada and Stelarc from Brunel University in the UK and the University of Western Sydney. Both have worked together in the past on the floating head experiment.


Nicolas Reeves

Nicolas Reeves is full professor at the School of Design at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM), Canada. He received Bachelor degrees in architecture and then physics before finishing his Master of Science degree in architecture at MIT.

David and him are now forming the NXI GESTATIO collaborative for research and creation in art, computer sciences and architecture. In this interview, we’ll be hearing about several of Reeves ambitious projects, including musical clouds with “La Harpe à Nuages” which is “a physical sculpture containing a technological system that, thanks to a series of infrared lasers, reads the structure of clouds and then transforms this reading into sound or music. The melodies or noise varies depending on factors such as altitude, cloud density and meteorological conditions”.

We then hear more about the idea behind the [ VOILES | SAILS ] project which provides a new dimension to multimedia performances with cubic aerial robots that can perform self-organizing ballets which will eventually be “directed” by human performers.

Stelarc

Stelarc is Chair in performance art at Brunel University in the UK and Senior Research Fellow and Visiting Artist at MARCS Auditory Labs at the University of Western Sydney. Over the years, he’s explored interactions between his body and technology using medical instruments, prosthetics, robotics, virtual reality systems, the Internet and biotechnology. Starting out in 1976, he completed 25 body suspensions performances with hooks into his skin and made 3 films of the inside of his body. He’s been extended with a “third hand”, a “virtual arm”, a “stomach sculpture”, an “exoskeleton” a “hexapod” and now a “third ear” from which people can hear through the internet. Other projects such as “fractal”, “flesh”, “ping body” and “parasite” explore involuntary, remote and internet choreography of the body with electrical stimulation of the muscles. He’s also performed as a virtual avatar on Second Life.

In this episode, we focus on Stelarc’s interest in robotics with the Exoskeleton, Walking Head, Third Hand and his most recent Mouth Robot project.

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April 8th, 2011

Robots: Robotic Arts

Our episode today features David St-Onge, an engineer working at the interface of visionary arts and creative science. Having participated in numerous robotic-art projects (including the Cloudharp, SAILS/Mascarillons) he talks about the opportunities and challenges of undertaking projects combining the contrasting domains of arts and science/engineering.

David St-Onge

David St-OngeDavid St-Onge is an is an ‘engineer in arts’, and works for visionary artists to give them the technological tools they need to express their talent and vision. At Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal and then at Universite Laval, he trained as a mechanical engineer (specialised in buildings’ structure) and roboticist, and also followed graduate studies in project management to acquire the necessary tools to work in such a multidisciplinary context. More recently, he chose to exclusively specialise in artistic projects involving robotics. The most prominent of his projects includes the flying cube project dubbed ‘SAILS’, which is an art/science/technology, research-stimulating platform initiated by Nicolas Reeves, director of the NXI Gestatio Laboratory at the design school UQAM in Canada, with whom David collaborates closely.

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June 19th, 2009

Robots: Celebrity Robots Brought to Life

In today’s episode we speak with celebrity robot maker Fred Barton who is best known as ROBOTMAN. As an expert in the Sci-Fi genre, he’ll be giving us an overview of robots in the cinema from the first shoots to today with a special emphasis on his all time favorite, Robby the Robot from the 1956 Forbidden Planet. Finally, tell us who your favorite movie robot is for a chance to win a Sci-Fi DVD or Bluray of your choice!

Fred Barton

As a teenager in highschool, Fred Barton decided he needed to have his own full size version of Robby the Robot from the Forbidden Planet. After home-making all the parts he ended-up with his first celebrity robot and went on to restoring the original Robby movie prop. However, it is only in 1996 that he decided to make a living out of his childhood passion and build robot collectibles for museums and our fellow enthusiasts. His Hollywood company, Fred Barton Productions, is the exclusive manufacturer and licensee for some of the best known movie robots including Robby. He’s built many other life-size computerized replicas including those of the original Star Wars Trilogy droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, Robot Model B9 from Lost in Space, Gort from The Day the Earth Stood Still, Maria from Metropolis, the Target Earth robot, T2-Endoskeleton.



More generally, Fred Barton has become an expert in the Sci-Fi movie genre and is involved in many of the robot movies coming out of Hollywood. He is a member of the jury of the Robot Hall of Fame and his protegee, Robby, is a 2004 inductee.

Contest: Who’s your Favorite Celebrity Robot

Most of us robotics fans are Sci-Fi lovers, diving into futuristic stories for inspiration. That’s why we want to give you a chance to win your favorite Sci-Fi DVD or bluray. Just let us know, here on the forum, who your favorite movie robot is and motivate it with text, pictures, movie snippets or nothing. The winner will be the one who proves to be the most assiduous Sci-Fi lover. The competition will be open until the 2nd of July 2009.

Tell us who your favorite movie robot is here.

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Latest News:

More information on and videos of Israel military’s new snake robot, Tokyo’s International Food Machinery and Technology Expo and Willow Garage’s PR2 in our forum.

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May 22nd, 2009

Robots: Robot Actors at the Theater

In this week’s show we take a closer look at Robots, not the podcast but the play that has been playing to sold-out audiences in Switzerland over the last 3 weeks. We first speak with Christian Denisart, the director of the play, who describes what inspired him to do a play featuring robot actors. We then speak with Nicola Tomatis from Bluebotics, the company responsible for the robots themselves, who describes the technical challenges involved in creating 3 very different robot actors.

Christian Denisart

Christian Denisart is a Swiss theatre director who is very active in the french-speaking Swiss theatre scene. Born in France but with roots in Switzerland, Denisart’s career included singing and acting before he started directing his own plays. In 2001 Denisart founded a theatrical company named Les Voyages Extraordinaires to act as an umbrella under which he creates theatrical pieces.

Denisart’s most recent play, called Robots, has just finished a widely-successful three-week showing at the Barnabé Theatre. What makes Robots special and interesting to us is that 3 of the 5 main characters are mobile robots! It’s the story of a man so scared of human contact that he surrounds himself with robots, including Igor, a metallic butler, Bruno, a state-of-the art robotic dog, and Leila, a robotic recreation of a dancer. The man is in love with a woman, but discovers throughout the play that real relationships don’t quite work in the same way as his relations with his robots.

Robots has been widely covered in the press, including SwissInfo and Engadget. Plans are in the works to take the show on tour, so keep an eye out on your local theatre listings!

Nicola Tomatis

Nicola Tomatis is the CEO of the spin-off company Bluebotics SA based in Lausanne Switzerland. Their area of expertise includes ANT®, an innovative navigation solution based on laser scanners for mapping and moving an autonomous robot in its environment. Their portfolio includes tour guide robots, entertainment robots, robot butlers for parties, space robots and even robots that can bring you your coffee when you’re working hard at your desk. Their latest brainchildren are three robots developed for the play ROBOTS, an obedient robot dog, a distinguished servant and a sensual female. The robots are the result of a 10 year collaboration with the designers at the ECAL, automaton artist François Junod and Christian Denisart.

Nicolas Tomatis completed his PhD under the supervision of Roland Siegwart at the EPFL on “Hybrid, Metric – Topological, Mobile Robot Navigation”. He joined BlueBotics in 2001 and is CEO since year 2003.

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Latest News:

For more information on this week’s news, including Kawada Human Interactive Robot HIRO, as well as videos of ACE asking for directions to get around Munich and Metin Sitti’s micro-robots micro-robots playing soccer visit the Robots Forum.

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April 24th, 2009

Robots: Giant Roaming Creatures

Today we’ll be speaking about art, engineering and freedom with two robot-artists building gigantic robots. Our first guest is Theo Jansen, a physics major turned artist out of the Netherlands, about his walking beach creatures and how artists perceive robotics and build sculptures that can walk and sense their environments in a very different way than the robots we are used to. We then speak to Jaimie Mantzel who is an inventor in Vermont. Throughout his life, he’s been literally building his dreams with his own two hands, be it a home in the mountains or a giant 6-legged robot he plans to use to take him around.

Theo Jansen

Theo Jansen is a “kinetic artist” best known for his Strandbeest, or beach animals, a new form of life that he is creating out of plastic yellow tubes. From their humble beginning as simple walking creatures with an ingenious leg system, Jansen has added an energy storage system made of plastic bottles, stakes that are hammered into the ground to protect them from the wind, and rudimentary water level sensors to protect the beach creatures from the sea. Jansen’s ultimate goal is to release his creations into the wild, to have them roam the beaches of his native Netherlands in herds and lead their own type of mechanical lives.

Words cannot describe Jansen’s work however, it is better to see it and experience it. Have a look at Loek van der Klis’s gallery of the beach animals or Jansen’s work featured in a BMW ad, shown below:



Jaimie Mantzel

Jaimie Mantzel’s adventures about building a giant 6-legged robot have been followed by the thousands on his website and youtube channel. He’s been building since he was a child, bringing his wildest inventions and dreams to life. Inspired by his talent, Mantzel started engineering at Brown University only to discover that math and physics were the rule rather than putting parts together. Instead of engineering, he diverted to art and unleashed his creativity. After university and years of work, he pursued his original vocation, building things. As a first step, he bought a piece of mountain in Vermont, USA and built a 4 story dome, his home. However, making small robots, and homes wasn’t enough and Mantzel is now building a giant spider-like robot which he can ride. Building this robot however seems to be a recursive process, since it requires building a workshop, which in turn brought him to dig a road. With all this finished, the robot is now 80% complete with an estimated finalization this summer. However, this interview is not only about making robots, but rather a different philosophy of life, freedom and art.



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Latest News:

Visit the Robots Forum for background information on this week’s news, including Pleo’s extinction, new inductees into CMU’s Robot Hall of Fame and the flying robot sniper system!

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