Wed, Feb 27, 2013 - Page 11 News List

College robotics professor creates Taiwan’s first singing, dancing robots
教授研發仿真人臉機器人 能演戲唱歌劇

Jerry Lin, a professor at the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, shows his robot while students look on in Taipei on Feb. 6.
國立台灣科技大學教授林其禹二月六日在學生觀摩下展示其機器人。

Photo: Lo Pei-der, Liberty Times
照片:自由時報記者羅沛德

Robots have been the subject matter of many a movie, typically relying on special effects. In the real world, however, giving robots the ability to express emotion or sing and dance are formidable tasks. Jerry Lin, a robotics professor at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST), has, with dogged tenacity, created robots with two legs and lifelike faces that can sing and act, and will even deliver your meals to you. He is currently planning to make a robot capable of playing drinking hand games.

For the past two decades, every mechanical engineering major at NTUST has had to take the course, “Special Issues in Mechanical System Design,” in which students must build working robots. Every year the theme is a bit different. Themes have included wrestling, throwing balls, rowing dragon boats, and qiang gu — a folk competition that is part of the annual Ghost Festival, all helping to test each student’s ability to put theories into practice and work together on a team. It is the oldest hands-on course in Taiwan for mechanical system design.

Lin was not originally a member of the robotics research world, but something unbeknownst to him nudged him in that direction, eventually moving him to develop multi-functional robots that are both educational and entertaining at the same time. Lin has even built a robot that has fingers capable of playing chess. In 2007, Janet, Taiwan’s first two-legged,165cm-tall robot with a lifelike face, was born, walking on two feet, capable of making expressions and even of acting out comic dialogues.

At the end of 2008, robotics history was made again when Janet got a younger brother, Thomas. They put on makeup and take to the stage together, performing in Taiwan’s first robotic theater performances. On stage they sing Phantom of the Opera and perform puppetry. They are also joined by Pica, a two-wheeled, two-armed robot that can describe a person’s face on the spot, as well as robot named Ringo playing a drum set.

TODAY’S WORDS 今日單字

1. entertaining adj.

有娛樂性的;有趣的 (you3 yu2 le4 xing4 de5; you3 qu4 de5)

例: The show was very entertaining.

(這場演出很有趣。)

2. on the spot idiom

現場;立刻 (xian4 chang3; li4 ke4)

例: She answered him on the spot.

(她立刻回答他。)

3. acquire v.

取得;獲得 (qu3 de2; huo4 de2)

例: How did you acquire that information?

(你如何獲得這個消息?)


Lin has been busy realizing his robot dream for the past 20 years. His foolhardy attitude over the years has allowed him to achieve all of the current success he enjoys. He ascertains that being “pragmatic” is the only way to acquire any significant opportunities. “My goal is to create technology that people can really utilize and improve industries in the process. I believe I’m doing something that is valuable and makes people happy,” Lin says.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

機器人已成為許多電影的主題,但電影能靠特效達成,而在現實世界中,機器人要有表情、能唱能跳,都是超級任務。台灣科技大學有個「機器人老師」林其禹,憑著一股傻勁,開發出大型雙足仿真人臉機器人,能歌能演、自動送餐,他還計畫打造划酒拳機器人。

「機械系統設計專題」是二十年來台灣科大機械工程系學生都修過的課程,學生們得製作機器人上戰場。年年挑戰主題不同,摔角、投球、划龍舟、爬高搶孤等都有,考驗學生實作能力與團隊合作,也是國內歷史最悠久的機械系統設計實作課。

林其禹先前其實不是機器人研究學界的一份子,一股傻勁卻促使他往前衝,開發出多功能教育娛樂機器人,又研發能用手指下棋的機器手臂。二○○七年,全台第一部大型雙足仿真人臉機器人Janet誕生,一百六十五公分高,不但以雙腳走路,還有表情、可說相聲。

二○○八年年底,首部機器人劇場上演,也寫下機器人史的紀錄,姊弟機器人Janet和Thomas粉墨登場,在舞台深情對唱《歌劇魅影》,還能操作線偶戲。同台另有雙輪雙臂機器人Pica可看著人臉、即時素描畫人像,Ringo則是能打爵士鼓的機器人。

林其禹的機器人大夢已十二年,昨日跌跌撞撞都成為今日的收穫,他也體認,「實用」才能有最大機會。他說:「我的目標是創造可被人利用的技術,提升產業機會。我認為自己在做很快樂、很有價值的事情。」

(自由時報記者陳怡靜)

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