Bot & Dolly
Bot & Dolly is largely a product of the film industry, creating robotic systems to control cameras in movies such as Gravity.
This film included sequences that began as computer-generated imagery, which was matched with live action sequences using robotic cameras. In the clip below, robot cameras captured the astronaut’s faces as they spun around in zero gravity.
These images were mapped into the computer-generated sequence. Experimenting at the intersections of cinema, robotics and stage magic, Bot & Dolly produced a stunning performance piece called Box.
Box uses two robots to manipulate screens onto which high definition projectors present geometrical and op-art inspired patterns. A human performer interacts with the screen images, creating a seamless hybrid of multiple disciplines.
Bot & Dolly’s design studio arm Autofuss emphasises its collaborative approach “colliding visual artists with programmers, engineers with designers, storytellers with illustrators, architects with machinists”.
It has produced promotional videos for Google, Microsoft and Adobe. These promotions make heavy use of robotic cameras, motion design, animation and live action production.
Meka is another university spin-off company, coming out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in 2006. One of their aims is to create highly agile robots that can run quickly over uneven ground.
Holomni is a design firm that specialises in highly controllable caster wheels that can position robots with 360 degree precision. Such a specialised company is likely to produce devices that slot well into any robot that needs precise mobility.
Redwood Robotics is a Silicon Valley company specialising in robotics arms. It is a 2012 spin-off from Meka Robotics, Willow Garage and SRI International, and aims to create a:
“new generation arm” for robots […] that does for robotics what the Apple II did for computers: get the hardware out of factories and into homes.
Like Holomni, the strategy is the concentrate on one particular component that can be used in a variety of robot applications. Whether Google will pursue this goal of providing wheels and arms to the wider industry, or not, it not yet clear.