aMAZEme at Royal Festival Hall
















Diamandini, Mari Velonaki

Diamandini, Mari Velonaki

Promotional image for Diamandini, Mari Velonaki
  • What:
  • When:
    Fri 14 September 2012 – Fri 21 September 2012
  • Where:
    Digital Studio, Sackler Centre

WORKSHOP: Join our behind-the-scenes workshop and explore the interactive robotic artwork Diamandini, from the developmental stages, prototype head, dress construction to the robotic base and development of the arms.

Script new behaviours for Diamandini that will be added to the next stage of the robot.

Supported by the Australia Research Council, Centre for Social Robotics / Australian Centre for Field Robotics, University of Sydney.

Part of London Design Festival 2012.


I went to this workshop with my class today.  At first glance i assumed the robot (Diamandini) was a sculpture, the V&A is full of sculptures so i wouldn’t be the first one to mistake it for a sculpture, i suddenly felt creeped out by it after seeing it move. it followed one of my classmates, came up from behind them and suddenly stopped just inches away from the classmate, it moves along the floor like a Dalek. It glides along the floor using sensors so it knows when to stop itself from crashing into something. the hands, elbows, and shoulders are the only moving parts on the body with a 7 point movement. it is able to make some gestures with its arms. The robotics are all hidden under the dress.

During the workshop they, the V&A, told us that the robot is able to detect human emotion from the kind of touch it feels on its skin. i asked them if they intend on making the robot interact verbally and the answer was no because they didn’t want to give it a background. giving the robot a voice would give the robot an age, class, nationality, etc and they didn’t want that. which is kind of true, but they’ve already given the robot a gender, hair-do, dress, facial features, slim and petite figure. the robot would already be pre-judged by those characteristics. From the shape of the dress and the style of the hair i thought it was medieval looking. they’ve been told by people who’ve seen the robot that it looks Victorian, which is similar to what i thought. they said they weren’t trying to create a robot that was realistic.

I think if this robot was made to do things that may be considered anti-social behaviour it would be interesting to see how people will react to it. it always warms someone’s heart when they see an animal display behaviour that is normally only associated with humans. how would people react to an anti-social robot? people’s reactions may differ depending on their culture may react to it differently because their culture says to react that way, or their reaction may be dictated by their social circle or upbringing, or it could be a personal reason for reacting or for not reacting. symbolism plays a big part, what means something to one person might not mean anything to the next and to the next person it might mean something else. it can lead to a better understanding of what is offensive and what is not, and then lead on to a debate on censorship.

The Dalai Lama has said on his facebook that religion “is no longer adequate” and is looking to science for answers.  By making the robot slightly human like we can use it to answer questions about what is and isn’t socially acceptable.   People treat other people with whatever prejudices they have. A robot that has no gender, age, race, class or religion won’t be stereotyped and people would treat it without prejudice. It would be interesting to see the robot do things that are considered anti-social behaviour because it’s that behaviour that causes trouble/conflict.

Laws and legislation may need to change or adjust because every country has its problems with its people. If people were more aware of what is and isn’t socially acceptable then hopefully we’ll live in a more peaceful world. Setting standards that can be applied universally.  They will need a more sophisticated robot for what I’m suggesting.

I thought about this robot’s life from the moment it was fully assembled to when it will no longer be in use. is a robot’s fate predetermined? if there was two or more robots of this kind how would they interact with each other? would they offend each other? if robots were mass produced, by the same manufacturer, the same model of robot with all the same parts inside, and the same capabilities, would they all live the same ‘life’? and if a robot was to be recycled does that equal reincarnation?