Autonomous Robots as Actors in Robotics Theatre - Tribute to the Centenary of R.U.R.

Dominik Petrovic, Luka Kicinbaci, Frano Petric, and Zdenko Kovacic
University of Zagreb, Croatia

In the eyes of the roboticists, the play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) of Czech writer Karel Čapek is seen as the messenger of the new robot age. R.U.R. is renown for the first mentioning of the word robot for a humanoid machine that looks, moves, feels, thinks and works like a human. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of R.U.R. in 2020, we have decided to make a performance with Pepper and NAO humanoid robots acting together with human actors. Performing in a theatrical performance is very demanding even for human actors, so we see the implementation of R.U.R. with robotic co-actors as a real challenge. For this purpose, we have analyzed human-robot and robot-robot interaction in the R.U.R. script to evaluate whether NAO and Pepper robots that we have are apt to act autonomously. Due to specific robot deficiencies that we found, we have made the robot casting first and then adapted the R.U.R. script to enable Pepper and NAO robots to perform their roles.