Avant South showcases use of AI in robotics at Georgia Tech

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – If you didn’t know better, you might think Gerry Chen was an art aficionado.

“I’m a big nerd,” Chen, a PhD student, admitted.

But despite the numerous cans of spray paint and canvas he pinned up Thursday evening at the Coda building in Midtown, art is not his passion. In fact, he says he’s not very good at it.

“I just love math, science, and engineering,” Chen said.

So, he made a robot that paints for him.

“What we’re trying to study with this test platform is how to understand translating human motions onto a robot,” Chen explained.

Chen is one of numerous Georgia Tech students participating in Avant South, an event designed to showcase advances in science via artificial intelligence. Chen’s setup, a pully-rigged robot graffiti artist, translates human drawings from an iPad to the canvas.

And the students are just starting to coat the surface of what’s possible with AI.

“Painting, but also things like ballet or parkour,” Chen said.

Speaking of dance, there is exactly that several displays away.

“This is LuminAI,” said Milka Trajkova. “It’s an interactive art installation.”

It’s personal for Trajokova, a research scientist and former ballerina.

“How do we induce a data-driven way to optimize training for dance?” she asked.

In the case of LuminAI, by using cameras to track and replicate human movements, allowing people to see their movements and learn from them.

“I think it’s a very unique way to generate new types of moving and really co-create with you,” Trajkova said. “That’s really the aim of this work.”

And when it comes to aim, there are AI robots who do just that at Avant South, including a robot that plays tennis.

“Kind of think it like a child who starting to play tennis, like, a six or seven-year-old,” said PhD student Zul Fiqar.

All of these AI applications are works in progress, but is it only a matter of time before these machines realize they don’t need us?

“Will robots take over the world?” Chen asked. “Yes, they will, but they will as our children.”

And if they work as our children, who better to parent them than the next generation of geniuses?

“It’s such a beautiful marriage between all these fields of engineering,” Chen said.

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