Seema Patel, William Bosley, David Culyba, Sabrina A. Haskell, Andrew Hosmer, T. J. Jackson, Shane J. M. Liesegang, Peter Stepniewicz, James Valenti, Salim Zayat, and Brenda Harger
Entertainment animatronics has traditionally been a discipline devoid of interactivity. Previously, we brought interactivity to this field by creating a suite of content authoring tools that allowed entertainment artists to easily develop fully autonomous believable experiences with an animatronic character. The recent development of a Guided Performance Interface (GPI) has allowed us to explore the advantages of nonautonomous control. Our new hybrid approach utilizes an autonomous AI system to control low-level behaviors and idle movements, which are augmented by high-level processes (such as complex conversation) issued by a human operator through the GPI. After observing thousands of interactions between human guests and our animatronic character at SIGGRAPH 2005’s Emerging Technologies Exhibition, we strongly feel that both autonomy and guided performance have important roles in interactive, entertainment robotics. Together, the autonomous system and the new Guided Performance Interface allow guests to experience extremely rich, believable, social experiences with robots using technology available today.