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Michael Araten

This robot could actually do the robot, and other dance moves too



So you've probably seen people drop some sick "robot" moves on the dance floor, but have you ever seen an actual robot do that move?

Well, a former industrial robot in Australia has embarked on a career change of sorts and it learning to dance with the help of a choreographer.

Baxter, which is a robot designed by the Massachusetts-based company Rethink Robots, is part of a research project being conducted by Dr. Damith Herath at the University of Canberra in Australia.

Baxter: Redefining Automation

Herath's research aims to discover ways to make robots more human-friendly.

However, this isn't Baxter's first step into the world of humans. Before learning how to dance, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that Baxter was taught how to play tic-tac-toe and performed at the Sydney Opera House.

Now, choreographer Vicki Van Hout is teaching Baxter different movements.

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"So all these nuanced measures that we need to understand before we can actually bring these robots into a human space, and part of that process is to try with performers, so we can understand how they feel about it," Herath said.

Researchers said they hope that observing the way people react to Baxter will help them develop more intuitive machines.

Herath isn't the only one trying to find a way for humans and robots to co-exist, and even work together.

The Vancouver-based artificial intelligence company Kindred focuses on "exploring and engineering systems that enable robots to understand and participate in our world."

Suzanne Gildert, who is the co-founder of Kindred, told CBC News that her company is similarly using human pilots to manually show robots how to handle problematic tasks.

The problem, Gildert explained, is that these robots can learn both good and bad habits, which raises ethical questions for those leading the way in the world of artificial intelligence.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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