A group of Nao robots became the latest dance troupe to entertain the Shanghai World Expo.

Robots are mastering the Arts. The recent Shanghai World Expo not only saw robot violinists, it debuted one of the more complex robot dance routines I’ve ever seen. Twenty Nao bots perform a choreographed piece with synchronized and staggered movements just like a human performance. And it goes on for eight frakkin’ minutes! It’s really cool looking, and continues to build the entire time so you are consistently impressed with the dance skills of the robots. Check out the entire routine in the video below.

The Nao is a research/education platform developed by Aldebaran Robotics in France. We’ve reviewed the robot before, but we’ve never seen it perform such a complicated and coordinated dance routine. It’s basically stuff we see all the time, but writ large. Still, the scale of the dance is impressive, and it has some real-world implications. Synchronous movements across a large number of bots opens the possibility for coordinated accomplishments of tasks. We see this all the time in factories, with one robot arm holding an object while others weld or manipulate its parts. But a coordinated program across 20 bots is taking things to another level. It speaks to the robustness of the platform, and it hints at the capabilities of swarm-style robotics.

The Nao’s don’t have the capability to build things on their own, but the software routines and expertise used in these demonstration applications could help in porting these tasks over to other robots. Researchers have already begun to program Naos using the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS) which fosters cooperative and accelerated development between institutions. Who knows, the Nao could be dancing us into the next generation of robotic innovation.

[screen capture and video credit: Shanghai Expo Insights]