Control Giant Industrial Robots in Maya With the Robot Animator Plug-in

Here is a facet of event animation that you might have not heard of… robot screens design. Giant screens at a concert, performance  or an event that are being dragged through the air by giant industrial robot arms.

Robot Animator makes it possible to “animate” a physical robot and generate a program that instructs the real robot to move in exactly the same way.

How is this done? Creator, Andy Flessas is a robot animator who has transferred his skills and background in film and computer animation onto robotics. Together with visual effects artist and TD Jon Tojek, they have collaborated on a plugin for Autodesk Maya that will allow you to choreograph a performance and transpose that performance onto giant KUKA robot arms.

The plugin is built to let you program robot performances for the purposes of entertaining spectators.Typically an industrial robot arm will have a finite set of specific “moves” designed to look pleasing to the eye.

Due to the fact that these performances require designed choreographed moves, you need to have a system that is more based in computer animation rather than the typical traditional programming of the robot arms.

The ideal solution, then, would be to program the robot in exactly the same way one would create a computer animation of the robot performance, and this is where the Robot Animator plugin comes in.

Robot Animator makes it possible to “animate” a physical robot. A computer animator simply creates an animation of the robot performance and Robot Animator generates a robot program that instructs the real robot to move like the animated robot. Robot Animator determines how the robot in the animation moves and then generates the program that instructs the real robot to move in the same way.

Robot Animator includes all the major KUKA robot models in both Inverse Kinematic and Forward Kinematic versions. Each model is accurate and tested and updated to factory spec at KUKA for full throttle performance inside Robot Animator.

Have a look at what Andy Flessas and Jon Tojek have been up to by using Robot Animator for Maya.