What if you could train an army of robots to paint a picture? Michelangelo would have eased his work painting the Sistine Chapel if he had had access to such technologies at the time.
The concept may seem exaggerated, but a recent study showed that it is possible. The robots in question move on a canvas leaving traces of color behind them, and in a premiere for the art created by the robots, the artist can select areas of the canvas to be painted with a certain color, and the robot team will execute orders in real time.
The technique illustrates the potential of robotics in creating art and could be an interesting tool for artists.
Team robotic art
For a world increasingly dominated by technology and automation, the creation of physical art remained a manual labor, with brushes and chisels still in common use. There is nothing wrong with this, but why not expand the creative repertoire with the help of robotics?
“The intersection of robotics and art has become an active area of study where artists and researchers combine creativity and systematic thinking to push the boundaries of various art forms,” said Dr. María Santos of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
“However, the artistic possibilities of multi-robot systems have not yet been explored in depth.”
This study examines the potential of robot armies to create a painting. Researchers have designed a system by which an artist can designate different regions of a canvas to be painted a certain color.
What is interesting is that in order to achieve this, robots must interact with each other.
“The multi-robot team can be likened to an ‘active’ brush with which the human artist can paint, where individual robots move over the canvas according to the color specifications provided by man,” Santos explained.
In their experiments, the researchers used a projector to simulate a trace of colored paint behind each robot, although they intend to develop a robot that can concretely manipulate the paint.
They found that even when some robots did not have access to all the colors needed to create the assigned color, they were still able to work together and approximate the color reasonably.
In the current study, the resulting images they are abstract and resemble a child’s pencil drawing. Future versions of the system could allow for more refined images.
But most importantly, the images confirm that it is possible for an artist to successfully train an army of robots to paint an image.