Capoeira Robots


  I wanted to add a twist to robotic theatre genre of art.  I decided to do a martial arts performance using two automated robots interacting with each other.   The type of robot I will be using is called the KHR-1 robot.  It is a popular Japanese hobby kit robot used in Robo-One competitions, a competition that tests bipedal robots against each other.  As for the martial art form said robots will be performing, I have chosen the Afro-Brazillian style called Capoeira.  Capoeira in itself can be considered performance art with its acrobatics, dancing, and musical elemets.  Another reason I have chosen Capoeira is that it has the most impressive movements that a robot can do.  The style is very fluid and includes complicated movement, two things robots are not typically known for. 

With this project, I wanted to develop a robot that moves smoothly and quickly, all while keeping its balance.

KHR-1 Robots
  The KHR-1 robots are hobby kit robots made by the Japanese manafacturer Kondo.  They come ready to be built in two hours and cost roughly $1500 each.  They come with a programming CD that helps hobbyists make the robot perform preset movements or custom movements via remote control.  They keep their balance with servo motors and they can even shift their balance to their hands.

Capoeira
Capoeira, like pretty much every other martial art, is all about an action and a response to that action.  Although Capoeira incorporates hundreds of movements, I decided to narrow it down to a select few that are the basis for a typical caopeira game or match.  I will program the robots with a mixture of stances, acrobatics, and kicks.

Programming

  The usual way hobbyists go about they're projects is that they assign movements to their robots via remote control, so the robots have no intelligence.  If I had the resources, I could attach motion sensor devices to each robot, and using the newest technology, have the robot respond quickly enough to each other's movements.  A cheap way would be for me to choreograph the entire sequence of the match and loop it.

  I wanted to put some sort of artificial intelligence to the project however.  I also wanted to keep with the spirit of Capoeira, spontaneous, unscripted, and unique.  With that said, I want to hook up both robots by remote control to a central computer.  The match starts the same way each time but after that, the match becomes completely unique because of a random element. 

  With each action a robot takes, the other robot can react with a another movement from a set of 3-4 movements.  Then the first robot reacts to that robot with another set, and so forth. 

Future
  With new technology, the robots will be human sized with no need for a central computer.  They will also be programmed to know every capoeira move known, and can improvise on the fly.  Motion sensors will also provide the tracking.  With this new technology, a human can jump into the match and fight the robot, thus setting the first step in a chain of events that will lead to the takeover of man by robots.

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