As interaction between humans and robots becomes more common, providing systems with an understanding of human expression becomes increasingly important. Our humanoids research projects  focus on creative expression and interaction with robots of human-like form and capability, with the long term goal of enabling live performance in ensemble with human artists. This work is primarily focused on Hubo, an adult-sized humanoid developed by the Korean Advanced Institute for Science and Technology (KAIST). Its capabilities include a large number of degrees of freedom for smooth, human-like motions as well as vision, sound, tactile, force, torque, and inertial sensors for perceiving the environment.

Research thrusts:

  • Musical instrument performance: Musical instruments have been designed over centuries to be played by humans, and the process of developing humanoid performers offers the potential of revealing new insights into the control of instruments in a musically expressive manner. Furthermore, for a robot to be considered a musical participant it must perceive and interpret sensory feedback and respond accordingly.

  • Real-world music information retrieval: In order for Hubo to respond to musical sounds, it must be able to extract musically meaningful features from real-world acoustic environments. Our research aims to detect such features as beat locations, tempo, and emotional content in the presence of room noise, reverberation, and the sound of the robot itself.

  • Expressive movement: Humanoids with the capacity to dance or respond through physical movement could lead to novel and interesting interactions with humans. We have enabled our robots to move in response to musical cues and features, for example parameterizing gestures according to the mood of music.