of ABB's largest and most powerful robots that use inverse kinematics to create
unique robotic motions are taking the stage with Bon Jovi for the band's Circle
Tour. Patented RoboScreen(TM) technology with large LED video panels attached to
the robot's articulated arms delivers an unprecedented concert experience. Robots
are choreographed to be part of the show, using inverse kinematics and advanced
motion control to move in sync to the music.
The Bon Jovi concert experience has always
been a marvel of sight and sound, and The Circle Tour, which opened Feb. 19 in
Seattle, has taken this production innovation to a new level. A primary
component of the visual intrigue of the show is five ABB IRB 7600 industrial
robots positioned toward the back of the stage, each with a 6 x 9 ft LED video
panel attached to their articulated arm.
The robots and screens are integral to the
concert production, moving to the rhythm and beat of the music while displaying
real-time video footage of the show and digital animations. At various
intervals the five robot arms move into a formation where the LED panels become
one continuous five-panel screen.
RoboScreen is the creative concept that brings
the robots to life on stage. It is a patented technology developed by inventor
Andy Flessas, the founder and president of Robotic Arts of Las Vegas. Flessas'
experience with robots began in the mid-1990s and reached elite status in 2006
when he completed a robotic programming, design and operation certification
program. Along the way he developed the idea of mounting a graphic screen on a
robotic arm to bring controlled movement to the visual media and create a
unique viewer experience.
Now, Flessas says he is using inverse
kinematics in the same way a computer animator uses it, and teaching younger
animators to use the robotics technology.
"Our goal is trying to create a choreographed
look to the way the six-axis robot is moving," says Flessas. He says that
movements are coordinated at 30 frames per sec using a time code to synchronize
motion with a musical beat or frame of video.
"The big challenge was working with outside
art groups to bring them up to speed on using robots to create omnidirectional
video," Flessas says. "I needed to work with the outside animators and
producers to get them to a point where they could understand the potential uses
of the technology, and then they are off and creating. The cool part is
watching what they did with that basic understanding."
The intelligence that allows the
robots to be precisely choreographed with the music and onstage production is
Robot Animator(TM), a software program extension that enables 3-D computer
animation. The proprietary software, developed by Flessas, provides a separate
interface to animate the movement of the ABB robots as if they were on-screen
characters. Once the desired movement is established, Robot Animator channels
the code directly into ABB's IRC controller and the robots replicate the
movement on stage.
IRB 7600 robot is entrusted with a custom-designed LED panel that weighs 700 lb
and is comprised of 24 individual sub-panels arranged in a six column by four
row grid. The I-MAG or image magnification footage, approximately 85 percent of
what will appear on the screens during the show, is fed by multiple cameras set
up throughout the concert venue. The animations that fill the balance of the
screen time are a combination of pre-programmed 3-D graphics and fully
rendered, real time computerized reactions to the beat of the music.