Development on RoboThespian™ first began in January 2005. We needed a troop of robotic actors to perform at our 'Mechanical Theatre' at the Eden Project in Cornwall. They were fantastic, tireless performers who needed no lunch. Our initial design work focused on mechanical engineering and control systems development. However, it soon became obvious that this was too much of a one-way relationship - the audience wanted to interact.
We developed and produced a set of hardware modules for the control of valves and motors which integrated seamlessly with the control software, and significantly we introduced internet connectivity.
n 2007 our software development meant that RoboThespian™ could at last respond, and at the Association of Science-Technology Centers conference in Los Angeles USA we demonstrated the first interactive version of RoboThespian™ who relentlessly performed a series of movie clips and started to reply to the audience. It was love at first sight - and we were encouraged to introduce 'intelligence' into the system. Our audience frequently wanted to shake RoboThespian™ by the hand, and to make him perform their own routines.
With this in mind, in November 2007 we started on new hardware features which included additional axis in the arms, articulated hands and feedback sensors on all movement axis.
A re-developed touch screen user interface included a visual motion sequence programming module, a structure that allows for multi language versions and improved visual appearance. The core software module was updated to provide a simple method for interfacing to input sensors.
We have always emphasized natural, human-like movement as the founding principle of our robot design. EA robots are not intended for lives of domestic servitude; they are robots with personality who are able to teach, entertain and interact. Now, we are ready to take the next step – quite literally! Engineered Arts are poised to leap into the future with the next generation of humanoid robots, one that can walk, jump, and hop, just as well as a human.