The robot that can achieve card magic
© Koretake et al.; licensee Springer. 2015
Received: 30 September 2014
Accepted: 8 December 2014
Published: 11 February 2015
We succeeded in developing a robot that can play a card magic for the first time in the world. The robot can complete a magic by quickly switching the first-card-dealing and the-second-card-dealing. This paper is composed of three parts where one is the design of the robot by referring human motion, the second is the mechanics of the card manipulation by utilizing a simplified model, and a magic actually done by the robot. We would note that as far as the card dealing is concerned, the developed robot is even faster than human magician.
There are various kinds of card magic, such as second-card-dealing  where the second card is taken while the top card keeps stationary, bottom-card-dealing  where the bottom card is taken by pretending finger motion for taking the top card, and buckeye  where plural cards are simultaneously manipulated. Skillful card dealing by finger is a key for demonstrating a beautiful performance of card magic. Professional card magicians can achieve various basic motions, such as sliding, picking, and releasing card one by one under an appropriately force and position control by finger. In case of card magician, these skills can be acquired through practice again and again. As far as we have examined conventional literature, there have been no work discussing robotic card magician. We believe that the concept of robot magician itself opens a new business chance, especially in entertainment area. By playing magic cooperatively between human and robot magicians, we can make a new world of magic entertainment where the conventional magic show can not do.
Under these backgrounds, the goal of this paper is to propose a hyper magician robot that can achieve the card magic by quickly switching the second-card-dealing and the first-card-dealing. For designing and developing such a robot, what is the key? Extracting the essential functions from human motion during card magic may provide us with a good hint for designing such a robot. We would note that our basic stance is not to imitate the human motion but to extract the basic functions from human motion and implement them into the robot by completely cutting extra functions with second order priority.
Finally, we developed the hyper magician with two active degrees of freedom and one passive degree of freedom. Through experiments for the second-card-dealing by utilizing the developed hyper magician, we succeeded in achieving it with the speed of six cards/sec and in playing magic by quickly switching the first-card-dealing and the second-card-dealing (see the Additional file 1: video clip). This paper is organized as follows. After introduction, we briefly review conventional works where we explain a couple of key technologies which are closely related to hyper magician robot. Then, we analyze the finger motion during card manipulation of human for obtaining the deformed robot model and show the basic concept of robot design. Then, we discuss the mechanics of the second-card-dealing by using a simplified model. Next, we explain the experimental model and results precisely, before concluding remarks.
There have been many magics [4-6]. Card magic is one of them. As far as we know, there have been no works concerning with card magic by a robot, so far, while there are a couple of works [7,8] in the HRI research field. On the other hand, there have been many fundamental works on robotic finger leading to card dealing, such as sliding motion based manipulation [9-12], pushing based manipulation [13-15], rolling motion manipulation [16,17], and modeling of soft finger tip [18,19]. Especially, works on soft finger modeling provide us with a good hint from the viewpoint of supporting both frictional force and moment, since this type of finger tip can resist frictional moment around the axis perpendicular to the contact surface as well as frictional force. While a number of multi-fingered robot hands [20-23] have been designed and developed so far, most of them move very slowly due to multiple coordination control under mechanical constraint condition. On the other hand, there have been a couple of works where they pursue quick response by reducing the active degrees of freedom as many as possible [24,25]. In order to speed up card manipulation, these robots also provide us with a good hint.
Human finger motion during the second-card-dealing
Basic concept of robot design
Mechanics of the second-card-dealing
Measurement of the pressure distribution between cards
Two examples of magic
Observing human finger motion during the second-card-dealing, we first extract the active degrees of freedom which are definitely necessary for the robot that can achieve a card magic. Focusing on the first and the second card dealing, we discussed the condition where the second card is removed without keeping both the top and the third cards stationary, and showed that it is hard to keep the third card stationary while we can easily achieve to keep the top card stationary. Based on these discussions, we designed and developed the four-fingered robot where two of four fingers have actuators and the remaining fingers do not have. The measurement of pressure distribution during the second-card-dealing showed that the friction force heavily changes during the card manipulation and the mechanical stopper is definitely needed for keeping the second card stationary. As an example, we showed that the robot can achieve a magic by quickly switching the first-card-dealing and the second-card-dealing.
This work is partially supported by The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan Grant-in-Aid for Challenging Exploratory Research ♯26630098.
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