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The Umbrella Project

  • October 28, 2013
  • By Anya Ventura     
Both live art and experiment, the Umbrella Project brought together dance and robotics in a shining community event.


A collaboration between the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and internationally acclaimed dance company Pilobolus, UP: The Umbrella Project brought together members of the MIT community to participate in a large-scale live performance piece using umbrellas outfitted with LED lights.

Each UP participant was provided with an umbrella equipped with red, green and blue LED lights. Using hand controllers designed by researchers in the MIT Distributed Robotics Lab at CSAIL, participants — like “human pixels” — could independently change the color of their umbrella. Guided by the Pilobolus creative team, UP participants swarmed an outdoor playing field and manipulated the hue of their umbrellas, creating a colorful and ever-changing display that was both live art and experiment. Bringing together a large group of people to participate in a collaborative effort dovetails with the Distributed Robotics Lab’s research in creating algorithms that can help large groups of robots coordinate with one another to achieve a common task — whether it’s exploring Mars or searching for survivors in a collapsed building.

Link to Full Source: MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology
Download PDF: A Distributed Algorithm for 2D Shape Duplication with Smart Pebble Robots