The programming involved in turning industrial robots into an integral part of a rock concert tour experience may bring a totally new thought pattern to the use of robots in advanced manufacturing applications in the future. The Bon Jovi concert experience, “The Circle Tour,” opened February 19th in Seattle’s Key Arena and has taken the use of industrial robots to a new entertainment level.
Five ABB IRB 7600 industrial robots deliver the visual intrigue of the show. Positioned toward the back of the stage, each robot has a 6 x 9 ft LED video panel attached to its articulated arm. The robots and screens move to the rhythm and beat of the music while displaying real time video footage of the show and digital animations. At various intervals the five robot arms move into a formation where the LED panels become one continuous, five panel screen.
The creative concept that brings the robots to life on stage is RoboScreen™, a patented technology developed by inventor Andy Flessas, the founder and president of Robotic Arts of Las Vegas, NV. Flessas’ experience with robots began in the mid-1990s and continued through 2006 when he completed a robotic programming, design and operation certification program at the ABB training facility in Auburn Hills, Mich. Along the way he developed the idea of mounting a graphic screen on a robotic arm to bring controlled movement to the visual media and create a unique viewer experience.
The intelligence that allows the robots to be precisely choreographed with the music and the onstage production is Robot Animator™, a software program extension that enables 3D computer animation. The proprietary software developed by Flessas provides a separate interface to animate the movement of the ABB robots as if they were on-screen characters. Once the desired movement is established Robot Animator channels the code directly into ABB’s IRC controller and the robots replicate the movement on stage.
“We were able to take the ABB robots out of the factory and turn them into rock stars mainly through the power of the IRC5 controller and its ability to accept the precise movement established in Robot Animator,” said Flessas. “The programming we are doing for The Circle Tour could bring a totally new thought pattern to be used in advanced manufacturing applications in the future. This entertainment application may allow it to break through.”
The custom designed LED panel weighs 700 lb and is comprised of 24 individual sub-panels arranged in a six column by four-row grid. The I-MAG, or image magnification footage that is approximately 85% 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 pre-programmed 3D graphics and fully rendered, real time computerized reactions to the beat of the music.
When Jon Bon Jovi and the tour directors were presented with the RoboScreen idea they were initially attracted by the uniqueness of the concept and the physical presence of the IRB 7600 robot. They were sold when they saw the graceful, elegant choreography that could be achieved.
The robots will accompany the nearly two-year long tour, which currently features approximately 60 concerts in North America and Europe. The Circle Tour is the second major entertainment production that ABB robots have been involved with in the span of a year. In 2009 a series of ABB robots were extensively featured in the climactic scene of the “Terminator Salvation” movie starring Christian Bale.
Filed Under: Factory automation, Motion control • motor controls, Mechatronics