New partnership moves industrial robots out the factory door and onto stage and screen—or maybe even a shopping mall near you.
ABB Robotics, a leading provider of industrial robots with more than 190,000 installations worldwide, has cemented its relationship with Andy Flessas, following his creation of the RoboScreen used by singer Jon Bon Jovi for two worldwide concert tours. Flessas, also known as “Andy Robot,” programmed five ABB IRB 7600 industrial robots to hold 6-foot by 9-foot LED video panels while synchronizing movements to the music. The robots change the RoboScreen alignment from a single screen to multiple displays, and even a 50-foot-long platform that Bon Jovi walks on above the stage.
RoboScreen is a patented technology developed by Flessas, who became interested in robotics in the mid-1990s. He finished a robotic programming, design, and operation certification program at the ABB training facility in Auburn Hills, Mich., in 2006.
The agreement between ABB and Flessas, signed in February 2011, ties Flessas’ company, Robotic Arts, more closely to ABB for future projects. Flessas’ specialty is developing entertainment concepts heavy on human interaction using ABB industrial robots. RoboScreens were developed before the Bon Jovi tour, but the concert series provided their biggest public platform to date.
Each IRB 7600 robot is entrusted with a custom designed LED panel that weighs 700 pounds and is comprised of 24 individual sub-panels arranged in a six-column by four-row grid. The I-MAG, or image magnification footage, approximately 85 percent of what will appear on the screens during the show, is fed by multiple cameras set up throughout the concert venue. The animations that fill the balance of the screen time are a combination of preprogrammed 3D graphics and fully rendered, real-time computerized reactions to the beat of the music.
The ABB and Robotic Arts collaboration will focus on RoboScreen at first, including uses such as:
- Information displays for live events, inside and outside the venue
- Retail point-of-purchase advertising and information displays
- Sports bar displays, which may move in real time to emphasize onscreen action
Beyond RoboScreen, ABB and Robotic Arts hope to develop and market humanoid characters based on industrial robots to perform in public gathering areas. Flessas says, “The potential for industrial robots to be lead components in the development of the next generation of entertainment, arts, and retail concepts is unlimited.”
Movies are another target market of the new partnership. Robotic Arts provided other ABB robots for the recent film “Terminator Salvation.”