Pennsylvania Patent of the Month – January 2022

Robot movement can be performed through either autonomous or semi-autonomous action. Data that encodes these movements are often called animations, and may also include displays, lights, and sounds. Human animators can design robot animations through various software, but it takes a lot of time to get it exactly right. Not only does the movement need to be animated, but the programmer then has to modify the robot’s source code to implement the animation in every individual scenario it may be used. For instance, if the animation is to “look sad”, then this has to be manually implemented in every scenario where the robot should look sad. Digital Dream Labs, LLC has designed an improved process which better connects animations and goals to reduce the manual programming needed for realistic robot movement.

Their method works to create goal-based animations. This means the components of the robot that generate goal states are isolated from those that determine which animation tracks are needed to attain that goal state. In this way, the robot can determine the end goal is to look sad and can then reference the animation database and pull the required animation. This is done by analyzing the data inside the animation track to identify what the motion will actually be and determine if it is suitable for the situation. 

This provides a more graceful response by the robot. For instance, if the goal requires tight-defined motions the robot can determine if an animation will meet the requirements or if the movement would not match. It also allows the robot to store a larger and wider variety of animations while taking less storage.

The robot can perform actions generated on the fly rather than being stuck in predefined actions. This makes all robot movements more dynamic and lifelike, for a more natural-feeling robot.

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