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Yamaha Industrial Robot Makes Disco Debut on Custom, Lighted Dance Floor

The 360 SCARA shows off its moves on the dance floor. (Photo credit: Yamaha Robotics.)
The 360 SCARA shows off its moves on the dance floor. (Photo credit: Yamaha Robotics.)

Normally, it’s all work and no play for factory robots. But one lucky bot at Yamaha Robotics in Indiana has a custom-made disco floor and knows how to use it. Soon the robot will be traveling to Chicago and dancing in front of a live audience at Automate 2015.

“The team here was thinking of ways to spruce up the booth,” says Yamaha Robotics senior control engineer Chris Elston. “I’m one of those guys who likes to program their Christmas lights to music and I like to program robots, too. So I thought it would be neat to take Christmas light controllers and choreograph the robot dancing to disco music.”

Elston spent 230 hours programming the system, with 130 hours for the lights alone. Getting the robot to dance in sync with the music was also tricky, because the dancer — a Yamaha Robotics 360 SCARA — moves so fast. In order to ensure his dancer was in sync with the sounds and lights, Elston had to video tape the dance on his iPhone and watch it in slow motion.

The innards of the disco floor: flood lights separated by white corrugated PVC, with a black plastic border. (Photo credit: Yamaha Robotics.)
The innards of the disco floor: flood lights separated by white corrugated PVC, with a black plastic border. (Photo credit: Yamaha Robotics.)

To create the dance floor, Elston used 36 RGB LED 10-Watt flood lights and a controller from Light-o-rama. Elston added PVC walls around each light in an egg create design, creating squares of light. The lights on top of the robot use Light-o-rama’s cosmic color ribbon. “I aligned the pixels, so when I programmed it I could make words scroll by and a stick figure dance,” Elston says.

Yamaha’s 360 SCARA is an industrial robot that’s normally used for picking and placing all kinds of items in factories, as well as soldering and welding. The dance routine highlights what Elston says are some of the 360 SCARA’s best assets: its speed and space-saving design. Similar robots are typically mounted on a table, where they take up space and have to maneuver around their own parts. “With the 360 SCARA, you get more area you can work with,” explains Elston. “It increases the cycle time, as well.”  Typically, the cycle speed — the time it takes for a robot to go through a particular series of motion — is 0.49 seconds. Elston says the 360 SCARA has a cycle time of just 0.29 seconds.

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