February 14, 2013      


While many industrial robots work long days in auto plants or in dangerous forges, five of ABB?s IRB 7600s tour with Jon Bon Jovi and rock all night with thousands of fans.

However, these robots are more than just a Bon Jovi theatrical element, they are the start of a new business collaboration between ABB Robotics and Andy Flessas (a/k/a andyRobot) to bring RoboScreens into ever more commercial and entertainment venues.

MarketWatch.com: While robotics technology is historically driven by the automotive and manufacturing industry, 2012 saw increased demand from the food industry, with the development of robotic units with the dexterity to handle food, and from the entertainment and tourism industries. This latter use is behind today’s announcement of RoboScreen packs.

RoboScreen, for which Flessas holds numerous patents, is a graphical screen mounted to the arm of an ABB articulated arm robot, which creates a unique viewer experience by bringing virtually unlimited, 6-axis movement to the video media. Large model RoboScreens travelled the globe as main stage props for the Bon Jovi Circle Tour.

On the tour, the RoboScreens moved to the beat of the music, displayed real time video and pre-produced animations, and assembled into various formations such as individual stairs and an elevated performance platform.

High-tech mashup: Joining flat screens and robots together

roboscreen prep

andyRobot is clearly the master visionary in the application of industrial robots for entertainment and commercial sectors,” said Bertil Thorvaldsson, global software products manager for ABB Robotics. “We were delighted to collaborate with him on the development of the new PowerPac software products and are excited about the further innovation they will allow in cultivating these emerging applications.”

With the various robot and screen size options, the two dedicated software plug-ins and the mixing board option, a RoboScreen function package can be assembled to serve a virtually unlimited range of entertainment and commercial applications.

The intelligence that allows the robots to be precisely choreographed with the music and the onstage production is Robot Animator?, a software program extension that enables 3D computer animation.

The proprietary software developed by Flessas provides a separate interface to animate the movement of the ABB robots as if they were on-screen characters. Once the desired movement is established Robot Animator channels the code directly into ABB?s robot controller and the robots replicate the movement on stage.

Totally new thought pattern

?We were able to take the ABB robots out of the factory and turn them into rock stars mainly through the power of the ABB IRC5 controller and its ability to accept the precise movement established in Robot Animator,? said Flessas.

?The programming we are doing for The Circle Tour could bring a totally new thought pattern to be used in advanced manufacturing applications in the future. This entertainment application may allow it to break through.?

Showcasing and commercial entres in multi-billion dollar industries await the ABB/Flessas collaboration. Here is a sampling of emerging applications:

Live Events and Entertainment: RoboScreens positioned outside performance venues for pre-event entertainment or marketing, or positioned inside to provide replays and other event enhancements. Or as on the Bon Jovi tour or in a theatrical performance, the RoboScreens can also be an integral part of the production itself, providing an inimitable blend of 6-axis motion and video display for stage props, structural elements and visual intrigue.

Retail Robotics: Strategically placed RoboScreens for interactive point-of-purchase advertising and in-store information to shoppers, providing advice for specific products and possibly allowing manufacturers to interact in real time with customers considering their product.

Kinetic Architecture: RoboScreens as a moveable wall or floor, where the ambiance of a room can be altered by the motion of the screens and the video being played therein.

Nightclubs and Sports Bars: RoboScreens that capture components of simulation technology with motion coordinated in real time to action occurring on screen during a performance, sporting event or video game.