Movement is a critical part of Jibo‘s character. He enjoys 360 degrees of motion thanks to his multi-revolute movement. There are two reasons his design team went this direction. The first is his ability to orient to people all around him, offering full expressiveness regardless of where people are positioned. The second? Honestly? We wanted to be sure Jibo can dance in really fun and cool way.
When you watch Jibo, he looks like he has a supple spine (line of action) that seems to “bend”. He can fluidly interact. There isn’t a point where he hits his range of movement and just stops.
The team explored a wide range of concepts before landing on this one. Many were not capable of 360 movement let alone multi-revolute movement. This design maximizes expressiveness with minimal complexity in terms of degrees of freedom. It is also safe to touch – no pinching joints or points of collision like a swinging arm.
From a social robotics perspective, movement is very important. It ties to how much of human communication is non-verbal. As humans, we express through our bodies all the time. Having a physical robot body capable of expressive movement plays an important role in giving the robot a physical presence in the room.
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In the world of animation, getting the whole body line of action is the most crucial element to get right. Facial expressions and the like supplement that line of action.
As a character, it was critical that Jibo also follow this direction. For instance, it is much more interesting when Jibo leans in with interest when engaging with his family than just showing interest through a facial expression.
Coming back to our second reason for this design direction, take a look at Jibo getting his move on -and groove on.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Jibo’s blog.