Boston Dynamic: Robot dogs to paint artwork

Boston Dynamic: Robot dogs to paint artwork

The ROBOT DOGS Spot company Boston Dynamics are trained in a variety of ways: from herding to military escort. But now they are being used for art.

Three ROBOT DOGS are being trained to completely autonomously paint a work of art in a gallery. The goal is to show this painting at a festival in Australia.

Robotic art

The project leader is Agnieszka Pilat, the artist of choice among Silicon Valley’s tech billionaires and venture capitalists who has worked as artist-in-residence at both SpaceX and Boston Dynamics.

Pilat is training the robots to paint on their own for a piece at this year’s NGV Triennial, which opens in Melbourne in December.

The three robots will paint for four months with oil paint sticks on an acrylic floor canvas attached to the wall. They will be programmed to understand a variety of commands, which they will execute in the order they deem appropriate, down to the direction in which the arm moves, the force with which it presses on the canvas, and whether it paints a dot or a line.

Pilat and the robots are among the 100 artists and designers participating in the triennial, along with Yoko Ono, Tracey Emin and Paris couture house Schiaparelli.

Robot mascots

The Spot have names: Basia, Bonnie and Archie.

“It’s like having a toddler: at some point you have to let the kid get on the bus by himself, that’s how it feels,” he points out to The Guardian its owner.

A classically trained portrait artist, Pilar first became acquainted with robots when. Boston Dynamics commissioned him to paint a portrait of a model known as Spot.

“I thought of it as a new celebrity, a new ruling class,” she says. “Portraits reflect power in society-Andy Warhol painted celebrities, old portraits reflected the aristocracy. Now the power is going to the machine and it’s our obligation to really engage with it. It’s up to us, their parents, to engage them and empower them to be good future citizens.”

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Daniel Chapman