Shimon is a robotic musician, built to explore and research robotic musical improvisation in human-robot joint ensembles. I worked on it in Gil Weinberg’s Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology.
Recognizing that music is not just about note production, but also about communicating with band members and audiences, I set out adding a socially expressive head to the robot. Using a combination of techniques from animation, architecture, motion design, and mechanical engineering, this non-anthropomorphic robot is capable of high expressivity, despite very few degrees-of-freedom. The robot is used in research at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and in musical performances worldwide.
In designing the socially expressive head, we used various abstractions of animation tests to find the final shape and mechanical hierarchy. Attached are some examples from this exploration. For more details, please see “Designing Robots with Movement In Mind“.