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Baxter impressed judges in Robot Art Competition

200 works of robot art divided between 38 teams from 10 different countries competed in the international Robot Art Competition. The winners were announced earlier this week and the social robot Baxter from Halmstad University, and his emotional paintings, came in sixth place.

Baxters robot art, attempting to pick up on and interpret human emotions, impressed the judges.

HEARTalion (Halmstad University Emotional Art Robot) was top six in the Robot Art Competition, receiving high acclaim for the results of the Master’s project where a social robot is being trained to pick up on and interpret human emotions through art.

“If this body of work was exhibited at a gallery and I was told that the artist aimed to capture emotion through colour, composition, and textures – I would buy it (says one of our professional judges). The bold brush strokes, cool or warm templates to match the emotional quality expressed, it all made sense – but felt alive. Loved them”, reads the jury motivation.

A breakthrough for a unique research

Dan Koon, one of the artists who have been coaching Baxter and his team during this project sees it as a breakthrough for unique research.

”This should make the team realise that it is really onto something. They have made a breakthrough not only in art but also in giving psychological aid to many people. I hope the strong showing inspires them to continue their valuable work.”

The hard work paid off

Martin Cooney, researcher in Social Robotics at Halmstad University and supervisor for the Master’s project is proud of the teams work, earning sixth place and a prize sum of $2,000.

”I think it's really cool that our robot's work was well received and that we will even get a bit of money, also because our team members worked hard and were pretty serious about this idea of somehow trying to do something with art and technology that could potentially help someone in the near future”, says Martin, also sending his thanks to the people involved in the competition.

“I'm grateful to the organiser of the competition for giving us this great opportunity to share a small part of our dreams, to the students who fought to put things together, to the artists who shared their wisdom, and to all the people who watched Peter painting with the robot, who voted for us in the competition, who talked and thought about what we are doing, or otherwise supported us.”

A team with much to to celebrate

Soon the students, Sowmya Vaikundham Narasimman and Daniel Westerlund, will defend their Master's thesis, and the robot team will continue to look at new possibilities for the social robot, who’s single goal is helping people and making them feel better.

For the team, who came in ahead of, among others, MIT in the Robot Art Competition, cake is on the menu.

“There has also been some talk about celebrating, maybe with some cake or pizza, which I think should definitely be followed up on”, says Martin Cooney.


Photo: ANDERS ANDERSSON (if nothing else is stated)

Many gathered at Halmstad University a day in April to see Baxter and local artist Peter Wahlbeck collaborating in the project where Baxter, reading brainwaves, interprets feelings and expresses them through painting.

About the Robot Art Competition

The Robot Art Competition was held for the second time. 198 contributions competed for the prize sum of $100,000, of which a large part will go to charity. The winners were selected by weighing together the votes on Facebook (40 percent) and the votes of a professional jury (60 percent).

The research team from Halmstad competed as the ‘HEARTalion’ (Halmstad University Emotional Art Robot). The project and the Robot Baxter’s artist name was ‘Rob Boss’ (in reference to the American artist Bob Ross).

The research team from Halmstad competes in a robot art competition with images created by the robot Baxter. The images are unique since they are an interpretation of human feelings. Martin Cooney, robotics researcher at Halmstad University, is part of the team developing Baxters ability to sense human feeling through brain waves. Photo: HANNA CARMWALL

Artist and author Dan Koon has been part of the project by coaching Baxter in learning how to paint.

The research group at School of Information Technology

Sowmya Vaikundham Narasimman, master’s student in intelligent systems.

Daniel Westerlund, master’s student in intelligent systems.

Maria Luiza Recenta Menezes, PhD student in affective computing and the students´ co-supervisor.

Martin Cooney, robotics researcher and the students’ supervisor.

Updated 2018-01-16