Robot Improv Circus

Robot Improv Circus
Robot Improv Circus


July 23-24 and 27, 2018 | 10 am - 4 pm

Tech Rec in the Student Center | Open to the public, Ages: 15+

"Ladies, gentlemen, boys, and girls. Come one, come all. Sneak a peek at the greatest robot performers of the future. With your help, they will be ready for the main stage and dazzling the crowds in no time. Teach our robots how to improvise in virtual reality. Help us create the comedic superstars of tomorrow."

The Expressive Machinery Lab (formerly the ADAM Lab), directed by Brian Magerko, presents a preview of the Robot Improv Circus – a virtual reality work-in-progress installation where participants will collaborate with a robotic virtual stage partner to play the Props Game. In the Props Game, players improvise comedic actions using abstract props while pretending they are familiar real-world objects. In the Robot Improv Circus, there is a virtual character who will observe how people improvise actions with abstract props and learn how to improvise by generalizing from their examples. This installation is part of research into understanding how AI agents can make decisions in open-ended improvisational scenarios. It deals specifically with scenarios where AI agents may be faced with a very large set of potential actions to take and no single, clearly defined goal that allows them to choose an action in a realistic timeframe. The work-in-progress installation is being exhibited at the Tech Rec space in the Student Center from 10 am - 4 pm on July 23rd, 24th, and 27th in a limited release in order to get user feedback. Participants must be 15 years or older to participate due to research restrictions.

Understanding creativity and exploring how AI agents can collaborate creatively with people is vital if they are to co-exist among us someday. We're focusing on understanding how AI agents embodied in virtual worlds can learn to perform open-ended improvisation with people. These improvisational agents are the first steps towards virtual performers that can co-create gestural narratives, play pretend, or dance.

- Mikhail Jacob, Ringmaster

Circus Troupe

Megan Shaffer (VR set design), Swati Mardia (knowledge representation design), Vanya Padmanabhan (3D assets), and Julia Vorpahl (industrial design, art, and graphic design). Research study staff: Rich Down, David Lacy, Kevin Wong, and Wenhui Yang.