According to a story
from the Chinese Xinhuanet news service, researchers at the Beijing
University of Science and Engineering have developed a humanoid robot
capable of performing the martial art of Tai Chi (or Taiji). Tai Chi
consists of moving slowly and precisely through a sequence
of 108 postures commonly
used in martial arts. The robot, BHR-1, is 1.58 meters high and weighs
Just for comparison, it took me about 3 months to learn the first 19 or
so positions. Mastering the full 108 can take a lifetime for a human. I
wonder if the next generation robots will be doing Kung fu?
I do think it's cool to have a robot do whole the tai chi dance and I
don't want to take away from that achievement because it is quite an
achievement. However, learning positions and programming positions are
like comparing apples to oranges. It's like it would take me a year to
memorize a page in a phone book whereas a computer database can have the
entire phone book as fast as it can be downloaded. I guess it could
train Tai Chi positions, however it could probably not teach the
so-called philosophical or spiritual aspect of it? Not that I'm any
sort of expert on Tai Chi, but isn't part of Tai Chi that whole learning
process, right? If that's so, then does the robot "really" do Tai Chi?
Probably not. It's really cool that the robot can do the positions,
but it seems to me like they skipped a crucial step - the learning
process. At some point robots will need to "transcend" from the mostly
mechanical to the...
Having a robot do Tai Chi is impressive, but this is actually not much
more sophisticaed than the Honda or Sony humanoids. The movements will
have been pre-programmed into the robot by a human expert, with the
machine acting as little more than a balancing puppet.
What is still obviously lacking is the intelligence part of the
equation. Could you build a robot which had no prior knowledge of Tai
Chi but then was able to learn it by observing a human demonstrator ?
That would be far more impressive and difficult, requiring the robot to
be able to visually sense and understand the world around it.
It does make for a great learning tool.
You can watch the robot perform the movements.
Since the robot doesn't get bored, daydream or get tired (not counting
batteries), it can repeat the movements accrurately for the students.