A team at Tohoku University has developed a robot that can follow a human dancer’s lead, according to the team’s leader, Kazuhiro Kosuge.

Judging through hand pressure applied to its arms and back as well as dance steps being made, the robot can predict a dancer’s next move before turning at the appropriate speed. Kosuge, a bioengineering and robotics professor, said the team’s aim was not to create a substitute for a human dancer, but to help further technology for developing a robot that can move in sync with humans.

“This is a step forward in developing a robot that can do work smoothly and simultaneously with humans,” Kosuge said.

There are no plans to commercialize the robot, but the team hopes in the future to program the robot to be able to judge and award points on the performance of its human dance partner.

The robot, which wears a white dress, is 162 cm and weighs 43 kg. Equipped with a computer, sensors and batteries, it can move in any direction on four wheels and has memory for five steps necessary to dance the waltz.

“As with people, the robot needs a thoughtful partner,” Kosuge said. “Any abrupt, forceful lead movements will cause it to stop dancing.”

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