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Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot to paint for an art exhibition

Boston Dynamics’ remarkable Spot robot has for a while now been available to a range of industries to help with tasks such as inspections, mapping, and monitoring.

But the talented quadruped robot has also come to the attention of artist Agnieszka Pilat, who has been using Spot to create various works of art.

Artist Agnieszka Pilat and Boston Dynamics' Spot robot.
Artist Agnieszka Pilat and Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot. NVG

Pilat’s latest project will see her train three Spot robots to paint a picture for the National Gallery of Victoria (NVG) in Melbourne, Australia.

To create their masterpiece, the robots will use sticks of oil paint on an acrylic ground canvas attached to the wall, according to the Guardian. The process will be carried out by the robots autonomously, though they’ll be programmed beforehand with a range of brush strokes from which to choose while creating the piece of art.

The Guardian describes Spots’ existing paintings as “often childlike,” though Pilat, who in recent years has sold works to Silicon Valley players such as telecommunications billionaire Craig McCaw and former Waymo CEO John Krafcik, puts this down to a deliberate programming choice as she sees the machines as “young children in human years, who know a lot, but understand very little.”

The training and painting process for the NVG project will take the robots around four months to complete, with the artwork hopefully finished in time for the NVG Triennial, which opens in December.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and its Health Transformation Lab are lending their own Spot robot to Pilat, while also conducting research to learn more about how people respond to the introduction of autonomous robots into their spaces.

RMIT’s Brad Crammond commented: “Art is thought of as a uniquely human endeavor, indicative of the difference between humanity and other creatures.”

He added: “Seeing a robot creating art, in Melbourne’s premier gallery, challenges our ideas about what a robotic future could look like.”

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Trevor Mogg
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