Amy LaViers is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and director of the RAD Lab a website of Robotics Automation and Dance (RAD). During her PhD Thesis she realized that Nao robot is the tool for her engaging for the public and researches alike.
Amy’s Lab is currently collaborating with a choreographer in New York to make an artistic piece that involves the NAO robot. In this performance, the NAO "dances" and speaks lines of dialogue, inviting the audience members to participate in a movement exercise with the robot as part of the interactive portion. This movement exercise formed the basis for a user study she is now conducting to better understand human-robot interaction using the NAO.
Amy is bringing the community as audience into these performances, extending the community reach past both the mechanical engineering department and the University of Illinois, the positive educational and social impact of using NAO is that Amy and her lab had performed this piece for 30+ audience member and will be performing it for several hundreds this spring. She recognized this is the first experience many audience members have with a live robot and she use this opportunity to illuminate the differences between humans and machines.
Amy mentioned that usually they have a few projects each lasting a couple of years running on the NAO. they also use it for most of our ongoing outreach activities, which have included local Girl Scout Troops, a planetarium in Eastern Kentucky, and for our department's annual camp.
Lastly, Amy said that It's easy to get started using the robot and the payoff is high -- their work always looks great on this affordable, expressive humanoid. You can find more information about Amy’s lab here http://www.timetocompile.com/
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