story, science, technology and creativity

Super models: science and robotics meet the arts

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Sophie Sakka dressing NAOAs well as being an amazing scuba instructor, experienced Japanophile, and all-round-fabulous-woman, my lovely friend Sophie Sakka is a humanoid robotics researcher.

When we first met, Sophie was teaching a robot to jump.

Now, she’s launched a non-for-profit organisation aimed at bringing robotics and the arts closer together, and within the reach of ordinary people.

8706_679726695425929_4471715117916355550_nI think Sophie’s terrific, and wanted to share her work with the kids of Australia, so I wrote an article for CSIRO’s Scientriffic magazine.

And now, with thanks to Scientriffic, I’d love to share that article with you…(and PS: if you have curious kids aged 7 to 10, and you’re looking for something fun to read and do, I totally recommend a Scientriffic subscription.)

AtSuper-models-Scientriffic just 58 centimetres tall, NAO is dressed to impress. Modelling outfits by French designer Marie Rebérat, the robot recently starred in its own fashion show, performing dance routines programmed by robotics researcher Sophie Sakka.

“I entered Marie’s shop to buy clothes for myself,” says Sophie, founder of arts-and-robotics organisation Robots! and researcher at the Research Institute in Communication and Cybernetics of Nantes, in France. “I had the robot with me, and Marie fell in love with it.”

Sophie and Marie decided to stage a fashion show, starring NAO.

“We used Marie’s outfits and my programming,” says Sophie, who is teaching NAO how to copy human movement. “The show was such a success that we extended the idea, running public shows for a month.”

Performing might come easy for some, but for NAO, every move must be carefully programmed.

“NAO can also sit down and stand up,” says Sophie, “and I’ve made it climb stairs. The hardest thing for NAO is balancing.”

And as we approach the mad, final run-up to Christmas, it feels like the hardest thing for me is balancing too. I hope you’re having a great Silly Season and I’m looking forward to a fab 20145 (already?)!

Author: cristyburne


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