Patrick Tresset’s robots draw faces and doodle when bored
The sketching bot is called Paul. It starts off the exhibition by scanning the room and looking for people with its motorised eye. When it spots a human face, it uses an edge detection technique called Gabor filter (which is modeled after cells in a human’s visual cortex) to pick out the salient lines.
A robotic arm, gripping a standard biro, then goes to work. It draws out those lines on paper, and then does a spot of shading. If he’s hooked up to the internet, he’ll even post your photo to Facebook or tweet about his sketching.
The technology is based, in part, on “a project hosted in the computing department at Goldsmiths college where we investigate the sketching activity through computational modelling,” Tresset told Wired.co.uk.
The rest is built from scratch, using “current research from computer vision, cognitive computing and robotics“, and a hodge-podge collection of different programming languages, including Urbiscript, python and frameworks such as ROS.
Paul is joined at Tenderpixel by another sketching robot: the mood-influenced Peter. Peter simply draws out marks on a dry erase board, and then erases them, ” to pass time” says Tresset. But the speed and at which it doodles and erases is dictated on its mood, which is in turn dictated by the hustle and bustle of the exhibition hall.
Like his face-sketching brother, Peter has a camera that’s constantly scanning the room. If it picks up activity, Peter will become excited and will start drawing quickly. If there isn’t much happening, Peter will get bored and slow down. His mood swings can lead to unpredictable results, and “unexpected things”.
“With this exhibition, and more generally with my artistic activity I am interested in exploring the relation people have with robots,” Tresset explains. “I especially am trying to create some little pieces of ‘theatre’ that touches people.”
If you head to Tenderpixel in Soho from 17 June to 9 July, 2011, you can get a sketch, and maybe a touching moment, for yourself.