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Tai Chi Robots 223

Posted by timothy
from the en-garde dept.
dknight writes "It seems that Chinese scientists are currently developing a robot which is capable of doing tai chi. The robot is being developed by the Beijing University of Science and Engineering, and is touted to be a great breakthrough in worker safety, as these robots could be used to perform dangerous work. They are supposedly able to sense changes in the slope of the earth around them (hills, etc.) and balance themselves out."
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Tai Chi Robots

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  • Ummm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by peacefinder (469349) <alan...dewitt@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:58PM (#4991167) Journal
    I wonder how they're gonna get 'em to breathe right?
    • Yeah, really. I can see them making a robot that can execute the forms, but that's not really what doing tai'chi is all about. Ah well, i guess it sounds good for PR purposes.
      • I think the point is about the thing's ability to balance itself in a natural manner.

        If it can handle easily being progrmamed to do tai'chi, something even many humans can't do easily, it has great usefulness.

  • by Stillman (185591) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @05:59PM (#4991170) Homepage
    So if you gave them a faster processor, could they do other martial arts? ;)

    >
  • Uh.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pilot1 (610480)
    whats the point of a robot that does martial arts? I doubt one would ever be able to defeat anyone, since the robots can't "think".
    • Re:Uh.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Stillman (185591)
      Balance. Coordination. Grace.
      Things that are pretty damn impressive for a robot.
    • Re:Uh.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yuan-Lung (582630)
      This is not a cartoon battling robot we are talking about.

      The point is to have a human-shaped robot that is able to balance itself on uneven terran, while in various positions.

      I am guessng that they picked tai chi becuase it's collection of forms with emphsis on balance, besides using it as a gimmick.

    • I can't believe I'm actually going to mention this one...BUT...

      Haven't you ever seen the movie "the Ice Pirates"?
      Kung-foo fightin robot Action!

      And then there's the whole thing about spectator sports...That'll really introduce programming back into the mix...I can see the best programmed robots fighting each other autonomously (not like battlebots...). This could be big...

    • Tai Chi (there are many forms)...loosely referred to as a physical exercise regimen that involves paced breathing and body movements with the goal of self energized mental and physical well being. For many practicioners the focus in doing them is not, first and foremost, martial, but as a meditative exercise for the body.

      In the case of a robot, it is simply a scripted set of basic, slow movements meant to mimic a human, and thus allow an audience to be able to identify with a machine on something more than a level that only requires an on switch. Sony's 'bots play soccer, and shake hands, as an example. Tagging that message as insightful is a joke, and clearly indicates the need for mods that allow for sarcasm :)
  • by FocaJonathan (163913) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:01PM (#4991186)
    They are supposedly able to sense changes in the slope of the earth around them (hills, etc.) and balance themselves out.

    Why not just put the chinese robot on a Segway?

  • Hmm... That's actually a pretty good measurement of the ability to act like a human, physically. Sounded aweful silly when I read the headline, but any robot that could meet the standards of flexibility and balance I'd want if it was gonna be doing something I cared about could probably do tai chi as well...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Imagine a Beowulf ... err, union of these
  • by DwarfGoanna (447841) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:03PM (#4991207)
    I'm too lazy to do Tai Chi myself. What a perfect example of robots doing repetitive tasks for us. We really do live like the Jetsons. =)

  • heh (Score:1, Troll)

    by grub (11606)

    It's good to see that when they aren't busy making draconian filters and firewalls that they are doing something useful with their time.. Tai Chi robots. Sweet...

    [/sarcasm]
  • by nlinecomputers (602059) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:05PM (#4991228)
    ...martial arts is it going to become a bad actor and do martial art/cop shows.

    I can see it now:

    Robbie the Robot
    Texas Ranger


  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by cethiesus (164785) <cethiesus@yaho o . c om> on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:06PM (#4991230) Homepage Journal
    Now if they could only build a robot that could do some mean Chai-Tea...

    *ba-dum-chee*
  • Tai Chi Balance? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:06PM (#4991232)
    What's the point?

    A walking robot that can perform VERY complex motion sequences, balance itself, and respond in real-time to dangerous situations. These robots (or a later generation) could be used to perform rescue tasks in damaged buildings after an earthquake, when the danger of aftershock is still very high-so if the building did collapse, a robot would die, not an extra human being.
    • Unh... think this through a bit. "a robot would die"? Just because the body was damaged? High voltage electric shock, yes, that's what backups are for. But simple crumpling of the body would generally leave the brains intact. And training a robot will be expensive, so you want to save the memories.

      • Er, I'd hope we aren't going to be living the the Star Trek future were nobody is allowed to make backups. I'd imagine the possible (probable?) loss of the (no doubt very expensive) robot would limit the amount it is used. It's probably not good economic sense to loose five 100 million dollar robots trying to pull some homeless drunk out of burning building.
  • Ok, of all the things you can get a robot to do.. tai chi? Geez, Loueez that's lame! What are they thinking? "Let's make a robot that moves reeeeaaaaal slow."

    Lift one foot.

    Raise an arm.

    Even when I was a kid I had a toy robot that had machine guns shoot from its chest. Now that's a robot! At least make it a girl robot and have it do yoga or backbends or something.
  • Credible? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Grip3n (470031) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:07PM (#4991241) Homepage
    I've looked on Google, Yahoo!, and even tried to find the information from other sites containing news from the source AFP [afp.com] (which the site credits the information from) and there is literally no other even mention of this robot on the web. I can't help but wonder about the credibility of this article.
    • Re:Credible? (Score:3, Informative)

      by theCat (36907)
      I had a doubt too. I searched on the name of the professor, Kejie Li, and not only is that a real professor in China (at one time Professor at Beijing Institute of Technology, China) Kejie Li even gave a talk to the 2001 IEEE International Symposium on Computational Intelligent for Robotics and Automation, in Banff National Park, Canada, titled "Humanoid Walk Control with Feedforward Dynamic". OK, so they didn't advertise a robot doing Tai Chi at the symposium but they've clearly been up to something. Pretty cool if you ask me.
    • Re:Credible? (Score:3, Informative)

      by bheerssen (534014)
      This [china.org.cn] looks like it could be the original source.

      I'm don't know what you searched under, but Google returns these results. [google.com]

      Some [go2net.com] others [geek.com] have picked up on it, there are some loose [yahoo.com] translations [elcomercioperu.com.pe], but no real original articles. No pictures either.

      Yeah, this looks a little vaporous. I hope not,the technology is certainly feasible, but I'm a little skeptical of uncorroborated articles in national chinese news sites. The japanese, however, have a robot [theinquirer.net] that looks promising.
    • CCTV [cctv.com] is the major state TV station in China. They have just run a [cctv.com]
      Taichi Robot story last night. It has a nice photo. The text is in chinese. I don't want to spend too much time for translation. So I just add a few extra points. The university names are my direct translation. They are unlikely to be the correct spelling... I am not a native Mandarin speaker.
      • BHR-01 is a 158cm tall humanoid robot, developed in the 863 national technology advancement programe .
      • BHR-01 weighs 76kg. It has 32 degree of freedom with extra dexterity around the hand and foot joints.
      • Main contributions: improved system integration and gait control.
      • The second country developed advanced non-tethered humanoid robot.
      • Recent advancement in robotics:
        • Security robot (demostrated on Dec 2002), capable of walking up/down stairs/uneven terrain, very flexible hand, can be remote controlled/ in autonomous mode. Targeted application: explosive disposal and handling of armed offender.
        • 12 joint biped robot developed by CheungXua Defense University, capable of moving like a ordinary human (eg move sizeward and other acrobat like movements).
        • Beijing Aerospace University: robot hand capable to handle objects with vastly different texture and hardness.


      I am not sure when/how did you do the search. I find [google.co.nz]
      many links related to the posted story, although the content is more or less the same in everyone. It is not at all surprising. The reporters duplicated the official press release from englishdaily.com.cn. In a sense, Chinese is similar to Japanese. Many of these news are not for "export". They just publish the stories in their own language. You really cannot say it does not exist until you search in their own language (if you can...)

    • I've looked on Google, Yahoo!, and even tried to find the information from other sites containing news from the source AFP [afp.com] (which the site credits the information from) and there is literally no other even mention of this robot on the web. I can't help but wonder about the credibility of this article.

      You must not have looked very hard:

      China builds tai chi-playing robot (same article, different site) [theage.com.au]

      Un robot imitant la boxe chinoise (from google cache) [216.239.51.100]

      Article in Chinese with PICTURE [yzdsb.com.cn]

      [harbindaily.com.cn] Another Picture [harbindaily.com.cn]

      China construye un robot que practica el taichi (Spanish, I think) [xasa.com]

      Chinese invent martial arts ready robot It can also surf the Internet, maybe [theinquirer.net]

      New Robot Developed in China (with Picture) [china.org.cn]

  • The article was a bit lacking. I have to assume it was a bip-ped, but given that top animatronics engineers can't figure out how to make a free standing movable bi-ped, I'm kind of surprised that someone else can, even if it only moves at a thrilling 33cm a step.

    And it has to be able to make 50 step a minute to do 1 km/hour. That's a fairly impressive statistic for a self balancing bi-ped.

    Does anyone have more info, or story from a reputable news site?
  • Forget that (Score:3, Funny)

    by Znonymous Coward (615009) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:11PM (#4991256) Journal
    I don't want a robot that co do Tai Chi. What we need is a robot that can do Karma Sutra [amazon.com].

  • Imagine being the scientist working on this when Mister Roboto looks you square in the eyes and says, "Whoa... I know Tai chi."

    I mean, do you suppose the robot will be able to kill him before he reaches the plug?
  • They say the robot does dangerous jobs
    And they say the robot can do tai chi
    Maybe I'm just missing something, but
    Tai chi doesn't seem dangerous to me.
    ---
    It's a joke, laugh.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    With all the fast processors around, will they be able to find one slow enough to do Tai Chi? Big problem.

    I have a 286 chip lying around somewhere that I can donate.
  • by bahwi (43111) <incoming AT josephguhlin DOT com> on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:15PM (#4991279) Homepage
    "The Chi is strong in this one..." ...NEXT!

    They are supposedly able to sense changes in the slope of the earth around them (hills, etc.) and balance themselves out.

    They also can sense the emotions and ambitions of the humans around them, slowly feeding off of their pain and misery, and always plotting against us.

    Something different:

    They can sense the coming of the Singularity [caltech.edu] by using their advanced meditation techniques. Slowly watching us they are, gathing information, to make the elimination of the humans that much more quick. ..NEXT!

    Tai Chi Tamagochi Robots! If you feed them they'll grow into Tai Chi Masters, able to masterfully perform even the most difficult moves of Tai Chi.

    COLLECT ALL 6 TODAY!!

    (Only at Participating McHughs Restaraunts. While Supplies Last.) .NEXT!

    It'd be cooler if they were powered by Chi.

    NEXT!

    "Li added that this type of robot would be able to take over some dangerous jobs from humans."

    --As soon as I get my gun, I guess they'll have robotic telemarketers*. Now I need an EMP.

    END!

    New Movies Titles:
    "Kung Fu Tai Chi Fighting Robots from Outer Space!"

    "Tai Chi Robots from HELL!"

    * I do not condone the shooting of telemarketers in this economy. But as soon as things improve and a better job opens up, say, anything, it'll be ok again.
  • by pummer (637413) <spam@pum m . org> on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:17PM (#4991292) Homepage Journal
    are they going to get the robot's mouth to move totally independently of the sounds coming out of the speakers?
  • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:18PM (#4991296)
    Tai Chi is not "shadow boxing" as the basically uninformative blurb the story links to states. It's a legitimate martial art perfectly useful for beating the crap out of people.

    Yes, it has it's solo forms, typically practiced in slow motion, just as other martial arts have *their* practice kata, and just as these other martial arts have kata with partners so does Tai Chi, as well as full out sparing.

    Don't be fooled by the new age types teaching it badly to Granny in the park, and don't take lessons in it from any instructor not competent to teach it *as* a martial art. They don't know what they're doing.

    That said, any robot that can go through a Yang Long Form with me is a *major* step forward in humanoid robotics. Hell, it takes a great deal of practice and training for a *human* to do it vaguely properly and I want to see this puppy in action.

    I wonder how it would do in "pushing hands"? That would be the ultimate test.

    KFG
    • Yeah right. Pit a boxer against a guy doing "flying phoenix pushing sky butt monkey hand" at four miles an hour to be in harmony with the universe is going to be panelled into next year.

      Why in GODS NAME are they making a robot that can do Tai Chi? That's what old people are for.
      • by netsharc (195805) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:48PM (#4991436)
        Heh, you have never seen Tai Chi in fast forward. Move your hands forwards and upwards, that blocks the punch and forces the arm of the opponent upwards. One hand stays in front, the other pulls back towards the body. That hand just grabbed the attackers hand, and pulling him down as the other hand smacks him in the face.

        It's all about taking the bad guy's force and using it against himself.
        • Yeah, I have. It looks like two spastics flailing at each other.

          Ever notice that "blocks the punch and forces the arm of the opponent upwards" isn't ever used in boxing? Because it doesn't work, except when some decrepit Chinese guy is showing you in slow motion, and the other guy is making NO attempt to connect with the punch.

          I'd like to see one of these "exalted Grandmaster of Flowers" types take on Mike Tyson. It'd be a real quick fight. "Ok, now to execute har flung kip in quick motioTyson lunges inPUNCH PUNCH PUNCH PUNCH SMACK 1....2....3....4....5....6....7....8....9...10!!!! ! KO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

          • Having seen something similar in action, I'd bet on the exalted Grandmaster. Katas are practiced in slow motion to build technique and strength. Yes, strength. Try doing a head-high front kick at 1/20 the speed and see if you can keep your leg extended at head-height for more than a fraction of a second.

            And if you believe that technique is unimportant compared to strength, might I invite you to visit the Skip Barber racing school and take the Econoline Van tour, where the instructor races one of the beginner students. The instructor gets an Econoline van, and the student is in a Corvette. I'll give you three guesses as to who wins, and the first two don't count.

            It's the same thing in combat. Proper technique and speed will slaughter brute force any day of the week.
            • RE: Having seen something similar in action, I'd bet on the exalted Grandmaster. Katas are practiced in slow motion to build technique and strength. Yes, strength. Try doing a head-high front kick at 1/20 the speed and see if you can keep your leg extended at head-height for more than a fraction of a second.

              Yes, and Jean Claude Van Damne is a ballet dancer and their routines include not only that but doing situps one vertebra at a time. However, up against Chuck Zito, he was rapidly pounded into bleeding oblivion.

              RE: And if you believe that technique is unimportant compared to strength, might I invite you to visit the Skip Barber racing school and take the Econoline Van tour, where the instructor races one of the beginner students. The instructor gets an Econoline van, and the student is in a Corvette. I'll give you three guesses as to who wins, and the first two don't count.

              And I would invite you to see a bantamweight take on a superheavyweight, in any pugilistic sport. Technique wins if the people are equal - but the world's greatest karate kid is one punch away from being oblivionated by a large adult.

              RE: It's the same thing in combat. Proper technique and speed will slaughter brute force any day of the week.

              Yeah, yeah. Keep believing that. Only, one of these days you're going to try your flowery dragon rainbow monkey scissor kick against a no-necked behemoth, and you're going to end up in traction.
              • Three things. First:

                Van Damme isn't a boxer, he's a very competent martial artist (kickboxing and jeet kun do) with fantastic technique (unlike, say, Steven Segal, but that's another story). He has much more in common with our aforementioned Grandmaster than he does with Mike "Lend me your Ear" Tyson.

                Your second analogy about the superheavyweight vs. the bantamweight is also flawed; it's assuming that both have had the same training and are competing in the same style; a Tai Chi or Gung Fu master has had vastly different training than Mike Tyson; It's like putting a Nascar driver (in his Nascar vehicle) on a Formula-1 circuit; sure, in his element, he may be fantastic; but he'll be seeing exhaust fumes in F1.

                Second:

                I think your only experience with martial arts is what you've seen in the movies (most of which isn't real), and some of the *worthless* "self defense" and Tae-Kwon-Doe classes taught in suburbs and at junior colleges[1]. If you think that a Tai-Chi master is just some git who earned his black belt by attending thrice weekly for a few years, you've got another thing coming.

                Third, and final:

                I think you need to lighten up, maybe seek therapy.

                [1] On a funny note, I once took one of those "self defense" classes for shits-and-giggles; hey, P.E. units are required, and it looked like fun. Sad thing is, the "master" couldn't joint-lock or throw me, and his student assistants (the "high level" students) were slow as hell -- too many Twinkies from what I could see; I accidentally injured one of the student assistants because I was expecting him to move his leg before I could kick his shin, and he didn't. I'm just glad I wasn't kicking full-force, or I would have shattered his leg!
                • RE: Van Damme isn't a boxer, he's a very competent martial artist (kickboxing and jeet kun do) with fantastic technique (unlike, say, Steven Segal, but that's another story). He has much more in common with our aforementioned Grandmaster than he does with Mike "Lend me your Ear" Tyson.

                  Yeah, and Van Damne got his ass kicked by Chuck Zito. I mean pounded up real good, by Chuck Zito. Chuck Zito did not get the gold belt and blue silk pajamas of Rainbow Flying Fish Monkey fist, he's a biker who's seen fights. When Van Damne said Chuck was lucky he slipped on some water, Zito called into the show Van Damne made this stupid statement on and offered a televised rematch. Van Damne couldn't backpedal fast enough. Gifted martial artist, sure. Fight worth a damn? No way.
          • I see you're not convinced. Oh well, I'll believe what I believe in, you can believe in what you believe in, maybe someday we'll see something that will prove or disprove our beliefs, but in the mean time, I won't try to convince you otherwise.

            Happy new year!
            • Nope!

              I've seen a lot of black belts rendered VERY un-cocky by larger, untrained fighters. Problem is, you see, they didn't throw the punch exactly the way they did it in class, you know, at about three miles an hour, in a huge arc, with no intent for it to land. Instead, the guy jabbed, or feinted. And then proceeded to hand the guy his own ass.

              • You're comparing apples to oranges. Of course someone who only practices martial arts movements will lose to a boxer or an untrained fighter who's actually been in a few scraps. The reverse also applies; a boxer who's only practiced on a punching bag will lose to a martial artist who's actually been in a ring or an actual fight.

                *That's* where you get to prove what you've learned, and that's where - theoretically at least, but I've seen it in practice, regardless of whether you believe me or not - an experienced martial artist will always have an advantage over an experienced boxer of the same weight class.

                You don't even need fancy flying or spinning kicks; a good sweep or a kick to the knees is easy enough, and something that the boxer doesn't train for.
      • If you knew anything about Tai Chi you would know that it is practiced much slower than when you would use it as a martial art. If you ever have the chance to see a true Tai Chi Master in combat you will see that they are more than a challenge for your boxer. What can your boxer do but throw punches? A Tai Chi expert would not need to throw a single punch.
        • No, the tai chi master would stand there, while wood flute music started playing out of nowhere, and then he'd do some mystical thing with his hand and the other guy would just go flying for no reason. Dude, I'm talking about reality, not "Wu Tang Theater present Chop Sockey Fighty flying people movie OK!"
      • Have you even seen a two-legged robot try to move? All the ones I've seen have fallen, and they can't get up. Makes sense to teach them something old people do to improve their balance...
      • The evolution of a "martial arts master"

        1) Gets ass kicked in the schoolyard.

        2) Decides he needs "karate" or god help him, the most esoteric Chinese martial art out there.

        3) Goes to tournaments, gets a honorary mention for his kata form

        4) Makes mistake of thinking his secret fighting ultimate style will help him in a bar. Gets kicked around very bad.

        5) Decides to take it out on students: Develops subtle psychosis where he psychs out his unwitting victims er students who pay for the privilege of being demonstration victims of a vicious throw into a wall or smacked hard in the xiphoid process with a punch (note that the student doesn't fight back for the purpose of the demonstration). Also, arranges for "drills" where he is pitted against a student in a very specific test of speed and skill which he's practiced far more, so he caroms his knuckles off the student's skull time after time, eventually intimidating and flinching the student and underlining his own bad-assness with his student population

        6) Believes in his own godlike status. Takes on guy in bar who does NOT fight in the specific way drilled in class, and gets his ass kicked by SUPERIOR STRENGTH AND SPEED. Tries joint lock on guy whose arm WILL NOT BEND. Tries kick the guy sidesteps. Connects with "devastating fight ending super move" and guy strangely does not fall but instead grabs master's head and drives it very very hard into nearest bar obstacle (counter, post, etc)

  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:19PM (#4991298) Homepage Journal
    Crouching diode hidden step motor.
  • "as these robots could be used to perform dangerous work."

    Just think, eventually they will be able to perform all kinds of work, not related to dangerous occupations.
    Certainly they will end up being cheaper than the human worker over time.
    I look forward to the day when robots are able to do nearly everything we pay manual labor for now. Then what the hell will we do? What will spurn our economy? Will the average blue collar worker work for the robots instead?

    Animation replaces actors/actresses, robots replace blue collar workers, etc. etc. It certainly will be interesting to know what an ever-growing population will do with themselves, and how our economy will change in the next 100 years.

    Every company (and even our President) wants us to run purchase more and more, but the jobs are decreasing as we're replaced by efficiencies through technology. I guess in the end we'll just ask one another, "Would you like fries with that?"
    • "I guess in the end we'll just ask one another, "Would you like fries with that?"

      You don't think a robot can do that?

    • Every company (and even our President) wants us to run purchase more and more, but the jobs are decreasing as we're replaced by efficiencies through technology. I guess in the end we'll just ask one another, "Would you like fries with that?"

      No, in the end we'll just be asking each other "Would your Robot Master like fries with that?"
    • in several regards. He fully foresaw the time when the "problem of production" was fully solved. He actually forsaw the problem this would present for a capitalist industrial economy and pretty much asked all the right questions. Unfortunately he came up with pretty much all the wrong answers. Went a bit loopy at the end too.

      The point of the matter is though that it's been quite a while since virtually all rote labor has been able to be performed by robots better than humans. It's been the humans that have been insisting on continuing to do this mindless, and pointless, labor in order that they may have "a job."

      This last is just one of the symptoms of a social atmosphere based on humans as machines and their output as "the economy." Me, if a machine can do the job, I *don't want it.* Really, just kill me now if you have to. I'd just curl up in a ball and die of ennui anyway if forced to perform such laborious, yet mindless, tasks.

      So what the hell do we do when the machines are doing all such tasks, as I believe they *should*?

      How about what humans do better than machines? Think.

      Maybe then we'll start to realize that the value and the purpose of a human being isn't to be a robot.

      There's going to be a shitload of "shakeout" before that comes to pass though. Batten down the hatches.

      KFG
    • we will have to grow out of an economy.
      No money.
      It seems sureal, but if everything need to run a country is automateed, what do we need money for?
  • it should be able to learn how to do the laundry, clean the dishes, fix dinner, and clean the house relatively easy.
    Excellent...
  • tai chi (Score:1, Funny)

    by phantomwolph (552305)
    the best line of defence if you are ever attacked in slooow motion
  • Too bad they are blocking useful research tools like Google. Otherwise they would know the Segway "scooter" beat them to some of these technological feats.

    Can a human ride on the robot's back and still have it sense and adapt to changing surface angle...like the segway.

    On the other hand, the segway doesn't do tai chi.

    -Pete
  • by brandonY (575282)
    if performing tai chi is one of the dangerous jobs that the workers could have.
  • or else this robot may learn Falun Gong [faluninfo.net] and they would have to kick its ass.
  • GhostBustersRobots! [netlocity.net]

    Let's see the Tai Chi robots take on Slimer!

  • by jafiwam (310805) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:47PM (#4991428) Homepage Journal
    Now if I could get one of the tai chi robots to clean my toilet and do other household tasks, oh, and a better exterior [realdoll.com] would be nice....
  • Reputible? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Canfield (548473) <slashdot@nOSPAM.chriscanfield.net> on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @06:48PM (#4991441) Homepage
    A less than one page press release, uncorroborated on the Net, that says that Tai Chi is a form of shadow boxing and that this thing will "Play" Tai Chi? All I can assume that means is that it is capable of moving a second limb in order to balance a first limb, without any sort of major locomotion, but the author's grasp of the subtlety of Tai Chi seems a little tenuous. With the broad scope of this posting, it could be the next revolution in computing or a new program for the Sony Aiboman.

    Can anyone find another source for this story?

    -C
  • So not to sound crass or disrespectful to the 'shadow boxing' arts (sorry, sorry, I couldn't resist, I mean good lord, SHADOW BOXING?!), but if you had two of these things going at it and one of them hit the other in the head, does it's head go "SPROING!", extend another foot and suddenly stop moving? :D

    - Z
  • ... appears to be doing Tai Chi...

    (Courtesy of the SNL Celebrity Jeopardy skits - No, I couldn't resist.)

  • OK... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mac Degger (576336) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @07:17PM (#4991564) Journal
    I see lots of disparaging comments on this one. But I remember seeing Asimo (the Honda robot...please, no SFII jokes) in action and thinking "Jesus, look at that!". Imagine Moore's law applied to that.

    Asimo already looked pretty much like a granny in slightly slo-mo. Now add taichi into the mix...that's a complex balancing act most humans can't even do (try it once, before you joke about it...stand on one leg, have the other in the air to the front, put both arms to the side of your body that has the leg in the air...what, you fell down? That's why it's hard. Now add movements to it, all the while balanced and controlled. And sloooow. Get it now?).

    I tell you, the Japanese and the Chinese have a big thing here...hardly anyone in the west is taking this seriously (excluding some at for example MIT who are considered slightly strange), and consequently the west will have a HUGE disadvantage when housekeeping robots come out in ten, fifteen years time.
    And this time, they're not kidding; look what's been done in 5 years time...from barely crawling (infant) to selfsufficient, internal powersource, full balance, near full range of motion (granny). The processing power is there, now it's just a matter of application and cost. And products like Aibo (which I hate, too) will cover dev costs.

    This is a bit of a ramble, I know (champange has that effect on me :P ) but hear this: robots (Asimov's, to be precise) are coming, and the Aseans have a lead on the rest of the world because they took the long view. They have the patents because they took the time and money to develop something not deemed feasable...but looky here, it's slowly but surely turning out to be not only feasible, but thanks to Aibo (and production robots like the ones FIAT makes &uses thanks to the Asians) profittable too.

    Thank god someone had the foresight...my IIIc made me feel I was living Star Trek, the next Asimo might make me think I'm living in Asimov's world. I love technology :)
  • Some facts:

    Robots can't do Tai Chi, they can only *mimic* Tai Chi movement...why?

    Tai Chi (also called 'Taijiquan' - meaning "body as fist") is a legitimate martial art that has been bastardized in China and the West; it has also become something of a New Age phenonenon.

    Why can't a robot do leigitimate Tai Chi? Because training in authentic Tai Chi involves exercises that essentially, over time, 1) dramatically retrain muscle fascia; 2) develop enormous leg strength in the practitioner (necessary; 3) teach the practitioner that *all* movement is controlled from the center (this is where the New Age people get it wrong, as we're talking about *literal* control from the area - front to back - just below the belly button (dantien). This latter quality is what's hard to imagine until one meets a practitioner who has it right. There simply aren't many of these people left, and those who are left tend to be very restrained about teaching everything openly.

    Here are some good, authentic places to start - everything below is the 'real deal':
    http://www.sixharmonies.org/

    http://www.neijia.com/

    Others to look for:
    Chen Xiao Wang
    Chu Tian Cai
    Chen Zheng Lei
    Wang Xian
    Chen Qingzhou

    Anything done by any of the above is the 'real deal'. There are also other good practitioners in other 'styles' of taiji. The above group is form Chen Style, the first Taiji style.
    Zhu Tian Cai
    The reason that Tai Chi exercises are performed slowly is to train the body to move, resting on very strong legs, and allowing the "center" to "leverage" the ground for striking and other martial moves. It's virtually impossibelto describe what this quality 'feel's like. There's no mystery to it however, as it can be trained to various levels depending on the physical ability and dedication of the practitioner.

    Unfortunately, there are too few authentic Tai Chi practitioners out there who are teaching the "real deal".

    Good Tai Chi practice doesn't have to be martial, **but the quality and basics of correct movement HAVE to be present** for it to be called legitimate Tai Chi.

    Simply doing Tai Chi 'forms' fluidly is not doing Tai Chi.

    In sum, the real physical dynamics and requirements of Tai Chi cannot be simulated by a robot. A robot may *mimic* moves that look like Tai Chi, but that's all.

    • In sum, the real physical dynamics and requirements of Tai Chi cannot be simulated by a robot. A robot may *mimic* moves that look like Tai Chi, but that's all.

      It's possible to interpret your words as meaning that an authentic Tai Chi practitioner can harness some magical force or hidden power of the universe which is not available to the world of physics and technology. If so, we have no point of contact for a reasoned argument, since I don't subscribe to the concept of souls or mystical essenses.

      If on the other hand what you mean is that Tai Chi is so exquisitely tuned to the needs of the human body and mind that a robot could not really duplicate it, simply because it is not made of flesh and blood, then I agree completely. However, notice that a robot would not need to do so anyway. A Tai Chi master at his or her peak is ultimately just a near-perfectly balanced machine, and such a state of power, readiness and competence can be the baseline specification for the robot at design time. Furthermore, once the robot is up and running then it can fine-tune its behaviour beyond that design baseline. Such robots will appear in time, as it's really just an engineering problem to be solved.

      So, assuming that we're talking about the physical world and not something mystical, robots will indeed not really do Tai Chi as you say, that is true, but they will benefit from humans practicing the art, and then surpass them inevitably.

      Having said that, the future is rosy not bleak, since mankind is on a path of self-transformation in which he integrates fully with his technology. Ultimately we'll all benefit from the work of Tai Chi masters, and to some extent carry their accomplishments within ourselves.
  • by mtec (572168) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @07:25PM (#4991598)
    ...is a robot that practices and reproduces the sacred movements of the ancient art of get beer
  • Here's some videos...

    http://www.tokyodv.com/news/RoboDex2002SDR-3XSon yb ot.html
  • It's interesting how Westerners have been adopting bits of Eastern philosophy and spiritual practice (Tai Chi, Feng Shui to name a couple), without their cultural context, often mindlessly aping the movements and ideas found in Dummies books or some television guru's show. Now the Chinese themselves are taking this to an extreme with their robots, in effect completely decontextualizing the significance of Tai Chi movement.
  • After decades of useless industrial work, each doing the work of a score of human workers, robots are finally doing something worthwhile: Tai Chi.
    My Goals For Robots:

    [ ] Jump rope
    [ ] Play tag
    [ ] Play Frisbee
    [x] Do Tai Chi
    Almost brings a tear to your eye... I can finally check this one off on my list.
  • ...but can they drink lager and get it on with vacuum cleaner, like the robot in the Foster's [fosters.co.uk] ad? :)
  • by axxackall (579006) on Tuesday December 31, 2002 @08:08PM (#4991769) Homepage Journal
    Balanced robots? Too mechanical, nothing unusual. I expect a better breakthrough in this area: computer OS studiing (zen?) buddhism.

    Seriously. People without buddism kill other people or other living beings or bring other forms of suffering to other people or to other living beings. Such people live their lives without high-order goals (what's the goal to get many money if you loose them after your death). Even most of religious people (especially ones of religions based on dogmatic principals) are not usually tolerant to people of other reliogion confessions.

    But once computers becomes actors in our eco-systems (computers now can decide on our behalf) then I would prefer to see such actors being peacuful, tolerant, non-violent, living their "lives" for good, loving and respecting other living beings.

    We don't want to have computers with "ego" - living their "lives" for themselves (and killing us as their competitors or using us as slaves). But also, we don't want computers as stupid slaves, living their lives for "ego" of particular group of people (they would become solders-killers).

    Of course, forcing computers to study buddhism should not free us (people) from the same job. We also must be peaceful, tolerant, respectful, loving and non-violent. Unfortunately many of us are not. And that't the real problem.

    • You're comparing the Buddhist ideal to the realities of other religions. *Professing* Buddhism doesn't preclude making war on others any more than *professing* any other religion does. There are pacifists within all or nearly all religious groups, and typically those pacifists claim that they are following the true teachings of that religion.

      *Maybe* the pacifist element of Buddhism is currently more influential than the pacifist elements of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. Even so, Buddhist countries have made war on each other and others at many times in history, for example the two wars fought between Siam and Burma in the late 16th century.

      I can't see how Jesus', Rabbi Akiba's, or Ibn Hallaj's (any pacifist Hindus out there pitch in) teachings are any less anti-war than the Buddha's. Frankly, you have already taken the first few steps onto the slippery slope by implying that Buddhism is the only way to peace. It's only a few short steps from there to the statement that all non-Buddhists should be destroyed as threats to peace.

      In short, the virtuous in each religious group have more in common with each other than the wicked within each group have in common the virtuous. None of the world's major religions is inherently more or less virtuous than another and they have all been used as excuses for atrocities.
      • Frankly, you have already taken the first few steps onto the slippery slope by implying that Buddhism is the only way to peace. It's only a few short steps from there to the statement that all non-Buddhists should be destroyed as threats to peace.

        Not at all. Buddhism let you to run any number of "virtual machines", each with another religion. You should practice it each time when it brings a peace, instead of continous arguing with other religion curriers.The other situation when the other will ask you questions about buddhism - you are happy to answer them as it will improve the knowledge of other people. But don't force them. That's the main difference of buddhism from other religions. As for wars, they are the subject of goverments, which are places for people who want a power, which is the goal of the material world and thus has nothing to do with buddhism (or with many other religions). When you are called for a peace - it should be, first of all, the peace in you soul, your thought and your actions.

        That wasn't argueing for buddhism, but more an explanation. Speaking about other religions for robots, I think that there are three serious objective problems:

        • Robots can study Cristianity or Islam, but will cristian or muslims like it?As far as I understand, buddhists have more chances to understand such movement and to avoid of calling it evelish or anything like that.
        • Robots study cristianity or islam, but what branch? There are ongoing conflicts between Catolicism and Ortdox Church, between sunits and shiits.
        • This specific robots are supposed to be the product of China Republic, the country where you can go to jail for other religions. Buddhism is ok.
        Again, no ofense to other religions, especially that robots can "natively" (more natively than humans) run different religions in different "virtual machines" simultaniously at the same time - right by buddhism rules.
  • In response to China's development of Tai Chi robots, Hong Kong announced today it's busy developing Feng Shui robots.
  • Chi-Sau (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MoogMan (442253)
    I do Wing Chun (Ving Tsung) which is a little like Tai Chi. It'd be cool if someone created a machine that was a little like a Mook Yan Yong (Wooden Dummy) with moving arms and AI encorporated, so it could do basic Chi-Sau. I find that most of the time I have no partner to train with. Of course, it'd take a lot of work to recreate the pressure sensitivity etc, but im sure some bored person could do it...
  • The pet rock company has announced the availability of a robot capable of performing zen meditation. This is an upgrade of the intelligent pet rock (capable of obeying commands such as "kill" and "play dead"). Owners of pet rocks can install the upgrade at a special price of 0.00$ (limited time offer).

    The company is working on adding a third function (ornament in a rock garden), to be released at an unspecified time in the future.
  • The Chinese have picked the perfect plan.
    1) Develop a weapon out in the open.
    2) Desguise the weapon as something people will like or might find useful and that's trendy(robot).
    3) Program the robot to fight in a style that most people think is very slow, thoughtful, and for old people.
    4) Mass produce and SELL SELL SELL.
    5) Send millions to a wearhouses all over the United States for "storage".
    6) Send the signal for FULL SPEED MODE.
    7) Mass destruction and KILL KILL KILL.

    I say we nuke them before they get their "weapons of mass destruction" plan under full steam.

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