Making a robot dance is one thing, but coordinating a group of dancing robots is an entirely different ball game. That is perhaps why Murata’s robot cheer squad evokes a unique sense of awe, something that we haven’t felt since the appearance of these critters.
The Murata Cheering Squad, as it is affectionately called, was unveiled just a few days earlier at a press conference by the company in Tokyo. The demonstration presented a total of ten units, which each of the 35cm, 1.5kg cheer robot moving through a surface using a single large ball. It balances itself using three gyro sensors, which constantly checks the posture of the robot, and maintains its upright position, regardless of whether it is moving across the floor or just standing still.
All of the 10 units are capable of coordinating with each other using a set of ultrasonic and infrared sensors, which not only tries to confirm the position of all other nearby units, but also tries to check its relative position across the floor. With a set of different dance formations, the robot cheer squad is able to do coordinated maneuvers, with each unit even capable of actively readjusting positions to maintain the formations as needed.
More than just a form of entertainment, multi-robot coordination is a very important growing field in modern robotics. A fleet of coordinated drones for example, can greatly aid in search and rescue operations in areas where people cannot operate en masse. The field is even more important with the advent of driverless cars today, where each driverless vehicle unit may simply coordinate its driving pattern with other cars nearby to maintain optimal traveling speed without compromising safety.
As for the question of why exactly is an electronics manufacturing company tinkering with dancing robot troupes, the company actually has been developing a number of self-balancing recreation robots for quite some time already. Murata is also quite known in Japan for “showing technological innovations to younger generations in entertaining ways”.
A bit of an interesting note, the “cheerleading club” is currently “looking for new members”, which indicates that Murata might do presentations in the future using more cheer robot units and more complex dance formations.