Robot Graffiti Artist tags walls just like a human

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GTGraffiti is a prototype robot meant to emulate a human's art style.

Graffiti continues to be one of the more underappreciated forms of art out there, unless it's by Banksy. We aren’t sure if the general will ever appreciate graffiti, though maybe seeing a robot do it will change some minds. That’s what some grad students are hoping for at least, as they unveil the GTGraffiti.

Most people are trying to make robots that will lower labor costs or for people to have sex with, so seeing graduate students create one for the sake of graffiti is interesting. Most of us would have preferred a sequel or spiritual successor to Sega’s Jet Set Radio but this could be really cool. We admire the dedication to the graffiti art form, here’s hoping it doesn’t go haywire and kill anyone.

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Introducing the world to GTGraffiti

Robotics Ph.D. student Gerry Chen collaborated with fellow grad student Juan-Diego Florez and robotics professor Frank Dellaert to create GTGraffiti. The robot uses motion capture from real graffiti artists and attempts to mimic their movements, recreating their art.

Chen, Florez, and Dellaert will have their peer-reviewed study of the GTGraffiti’s system published at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation proceedings in June 2022. It will be interesting to see what the final verdict will be on GTGraffiti since this is one of the more intriguing robots we’ve seen in a while.

Why GTGraffiti was made

When asked why they wanted to make a robot that does graffiti art, Chen said it’s because art is some of the most nuanced human motion out there. Furthermore, Chen feels that if a robot can mimic something complex like making art, future versions can do more complicated things in the future.

"The arts, especially painting or dancing, exemplify some of the most complex and nuanced motions humans can make," Chen said to Techxplore. "So if we want to create robots that can do the highly technical things that humans do, then creating robots that can dance or paint are great goals to shoot for. These are the types of skills that demonstrate the extraordinary capabilities of robots and can also be applied to a variety of other applications."

In a more passionate comment from Chen, he also feels that programming a robot to do art also means preserving future artworks should they ever be destroyed. Considering how difficult it can be to preserve paintings, having robots mimic artists to recreate their art is actually a really nice idea.

"Graffiti is an art form that is inherently meant to be seen by the masses," Chen said. "In that respect, I feel hopeful that we can use graffiti to communicate this idea—that robots working together with humans can make positive contributions to society."

For the sake of the future, we too hope robots and humans can live in peace. Nobody wants a future like The Matrix.