Professor's self-propelled robots make a trip to the Olympics
Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 02:06
The robotic creations of an Ohio State instructor landed him an invitation to the Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Ken Rinaldo, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Humanities, was selected as a cultural Olympiad at the Games. His invitation included a pass for a few robotic guests.
Rinaldo is the inventor of the Paparazzi Bot, a robot on wheels that finds people, takes photos of them — and then makes them happy.
"The robots manipulate you to be happy, or appear happy," Rinaldo said.
Curator for the Olympics, Malcolm Levy, liked Rinaldo's work enough that he commissioned Rinaldo to build three bots for an interactive exhibit in Vancouver.
Rinaldo was unable to attend the Olympic preparation last week because he was setting up two bots in Berlin at the Transmediale festival. Joshua Penrose, an OSU graduate student in the Art and Technology program, set up the three bots in Vancouver in place of Rinaldo.
"Being there was a great international experience," Penrose said. "I got a lot of good vibes from people I met checking out our exhibit."
In Vancouver, the bots were set up in an area where curious people can check out the bots. Once people enter the area, the bots, rolling
on four wheels, find a smiling person and snap a picture. The bots display the altered "happy" photo of the person.
The autonomous bots are comprised of multiple cameras, infrared sensors to seek out humans, robotic actuators and a custom-built rolling platform.
The goal of the bots is to research emerging human and robotic interactions and to explore our culture's obsession with self-image and promotion, Rinaldo said.
Rinaldo thinks his bots foreshadow a day when human paparazzi will become obsolete as smaller paparazzi robots, such as smart dust and flying insects imbedded with cameras, are successfully developed.
Rinaldo would not divulge how much the bots cost to make, but Penrose said the 50-pound bots cost a considerable amount of money.
"The base and supports are laser-cut aluminum and polished," Penrose said. "They looked really good."
Other artists Rinaldo admires, such as Laurie Anderson and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, were also invited as cultural Olympiads.
Rinaldo's bots will be in Vancouver for about two more weeks, dovetailing into the beginning days of the Olympic games.
To see photos of the paparazzi bots in action go to paparazzibot.com.