Visitors to the recent Digital Content Expo in Tokyo got to see one of the more unusual performances of their lives: a robotic woman dancing and singing with her human counterparts to a choreographed pop routine. The HRP-4C, a bot made to resemble a typical 19-29 year old Japanese woman, is a product of Kawada and AIST that was released early last year and has been taught how to strut, dance, and sing. HRP-4C has a human-like face that many will find creepy, and her moves are a little stilted on the dance floor. Still, watching the robot perform as part of a real human dance troupe is pretty amazing. Check it out for yourself in the videos below. Her feet don't come far off the ground, but the HRP-4C is taking a big leap into the world of entertainment.
Kawada's HRP line of bots is constantly pushing its limits in terms of fluid motion and control. The HRP-4C impressed us with its debut last year, and was one of our Best Robots of 2009. While you'd never mistake one for a real human, the HRP robots all can move with an ease that puts them near the forefront of their field. And they're actually about the same size of a human (five foot or so), unlike Honda's ASIMO. That life-like scale really comes in handy when you want to blend into a dance company:
The next video shows the exact same routine, shot from a different angle. Only watch if you're into choreography and like to see different perspectives on the same dance.
The real story isn't how smoothly the HRP-4C moves, however, it's that the robot can interact with humans for entertainment in a way that's watchable. Although her part is simplified, the HRP-4C is performing real choreography. The routine was created by performer/dancer SAM, a member of the band TRF - a well known name in Japan and abroad. The HRP-4C's singing voice is produced via Yamaha's Vocaloid software, which is becoming a new standard for synthetic music, and is used in popular songwriting software the world over. This is real art. A little basic, perhaps, but real art. As robots improve in quality, we'll only see more of this blending of machines and humans for performance. Previously, and even now, such dancing displays have been appreciated more for their novelty than their quality. Eventually, however, we'll have robots that can dance and sing with humans on equal footing. Keep up the good work, HRP-4C, in another decade you could be headlining with robot Beyonce.
[image credits: Pink Tentacle]
[sources: PinkTentacle ]