Researchers from Disney have developed software for mapping CGI motion animations to actual robots – without any of the unwanted outcomes of porting virtual movements to the physical world.
The researchers note that while it’s fairly easy to create virtual characters with a wide degree of motion, translating those movements to real robots presents a challenge due to “constraints imposed by the size, weight, and placement of [their] mechanical components.”
“The combination of fast motions and unavoidable structural deformations leads to mechanical oscillations that negatively affect [the performance of robotic characters],” the researchers explained. “Our goal is to automatically transfer motions created using traditional animation software to robotic characters while avoiding [complications].”
To solve this problem, Disney developed a special motion retargeting system that suppresses unwanted vibrations, which it later tested on five different robots – including a child-sized animatronic figure with highly dynamic drumming and boxing motions.
Of course, the implementation has some kinks to iron out. “Our simulator captures the dynamic response of the physical characters well,” the researchers say. “However, it can be observed that there is still some deviation between the simulated dynamics and physical system, leading to small residual vibrations.”
The new method was demonstrated at computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH 2019. For more details about the Disney’s technology, check out the footage in the video section above or head to this page.
This isn’t the first time the entertainment giant has toyed with robots.