The new Picasso? Meet Ai-Da the robot artist

Author: 
Reuters
ID: 
1549847206351324200
Mon, 2019-02-11 00:00

FALMOUTH, England: Can robots be creative? British gallery owner
Aidan Meller hopes to go some way toward answering that question
with Ai-Da, who her makers say will be able to draw people from
sight with a pencil in her bionic hand.
Meller is overseeing the final stages of her construction by
engineers at Cornwall-based Engineered Arts.
He calls Ai-Da — named after British mathematician and computer
pioneer Ada Lovelace — the world’s first “AI ultra-realistic
robot artist,” and his ambition is for her to perform like her
human equivalents.
“She’s going to actually be drawing and we’re hoping to then
build technology for her to paint,” Meller said after seeing
Ai-Da’s prosthetic head being carefully brought to life by
specialists individually attaching hairs to form her eyebrows.
“But also as a performance artist she’ll be able to engage with
audiences and actually get messages across; asking those questions
about technology today.”
Her skeletal robotic head may stand disembodied on a workbench, but
her movements are very much alive.
Cameras in each of her eyeballs recognize human features — she
will make eye contact and follow you around the room, opening and
closing her mouth as you do. Get too close and she’ll back away,
blinking, as if in shock.
Ai-Da’s makers say she will have a “RoboThespian” body with
expressive movements and she will talk and answer questions.
“There’s AI (artificial intelligence) running in the computer
vision that allows the robot to track faces to recognize facial
features and to mimic your expression,” said Marcus Hold, Design
& Production Engineer at Engineered Arts.
Ai-Da’s makers are using “Mesmer” life-like robot technology
for her head, and once finished she will have a mixed race
appearance with long dark hair, silicone skin and 3D printed teeth
and gums.
“(Mesmer) brings together the development of software mechanics
and electronics to produce a lifelike face with lifelike gestures
in a small human sized package,” Hold said.
Ai-Da will present her inaugural exhibition “Unsecured Futures”
in May at the University of Oxford, and her sketches will go on
display in London in November.

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The new Picasso? Meet Ai-Da the robot artist