Robot cheerleaders are popping up everywhere. They might seem like a strange trend, but it sort of makes sense as an upbeat way to show off what robots can do. That’s exactly what Japanese electronics company Murata Manufacturing Co. is using them for.
Murata, which makes device parts for Apple and others, created these cheerleaders to show off the company’s sensors and manufacturing techniques. The robots balance and roll around on balls and can wave their plastic robot arms. The key to Murata's demo is that there isn’t just one robot cheerleader—a whole squad of them moves synchronously in and out of different formations.
It’s all powered by Murata's gyroscopes, infrared sensors, and special microphones that output specialized position and motion data for central processing. And the robots can do their special ball balancing because Murata has been researching since the early ’90s to develop new stabilization and balance technology and collaborating with Kyoto University on synchronization techniques. Murata senior vice president Yuichi Kojima told the Wall Street Journal, “They are small girls, but they show what electronics can do.” The robots are each 14 inches tall.
Murata won't be selling the robots, but they provide examples of how the company's sensors could be used for real: preventing collisions between self-driving cars, generating fitness data in wearables, and coordinating large groups of robots.
Check out the demo video above and Murata's making-of video below. For people who think cheerleaders are a little out-moded, Murata's version presents a possible next generation.