Aug 20, 2011

Samuel Beckett's QUAD play robotic performance

The lab had the honor to be working in the robotic version of Beckett's Quad play. The project, by the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry (SCI) at CMU, is an original concept by Matt Gray (director of the play), and was produced by Golan Levin, in charge of the SCI.
The Random Lab's task was to develop the Computer Vision Control System and design the radio wireless communication system between the CVCS and the iRobot Create robots (Roomba).

Matt Gray soldering some pins to interface the robots.
There were a few challenges that came across during the development. Once we managed to communicate to the robots with an arduino via it's serial port, the first test were based on the scripting language. As the play consists of a long series of pattern movement repetition, after a few rounds each robot started to accumulate the small deviations and drift significantly, until each one ended up in different corners of the room, or collapsing one another, in a rather beautiful dance.

To achieve the goal of making the robots follow the pattern, Golan, expert in computer vision, helped us in the development of a color tracking system that would be able to detect and track the robots' positions and orientation, and send the appropriate signals to each one in order to me them along the proper trajectory and correct any deviation in real time.

Work in progress at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry. Photo by Riley Harmon.
After solving several problems with the xbee radio wireless communication, and tuning the system, the result was accurate enough to perform the play.

Here is a raw footage fragment of the performance in the Rauh Theater, Purner Hall, Carnegie Mellon (follow the link to the video´s Vimeo page for more info and complete credit list):

1 comment:

  1. So cool!
    I really like the original play! This interpretation is also very poetic :)