Ro-Beat It

International Video gaming Institute Hospitality Laboratory director Robert Rippee postured what, by all step, was a completely affordable question: “What do robots involve Michael Jackson?” (The unspoke caution: Other than serving under Captain EO on his spaceship.)

At the Robot Automation for Dance Hackathon Oct. 12 in the Student Union, the response was “rather a lot, in fact.”

The RAD Hackathon, a collaboration in between UNLV’s IGI and the Workplace of Economic Development, and Core Academy, a Las Vegas program that offers long-term, extensive assistance to youth to break the cycle of hardship. It challenged 25 students from five location high schools to take bots donated by Robotis and set them for optimum get-down, all to the tune of the King of Pop.

Jimmy Martinez of West Prep Academy changes his robot while, from left, Emma Hortan of West Preparation, LeGusta Hal of Canyon Springs High School, and Gisela Molina of Valley High School search. The little person didn’t have a single glove, but he got in the groove to timeless Jackson fare like “Go away,” “Smooth Criminal,” and “Black or White.”

The icy glitter-funk of”Do not Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”proved to be too much for the mechanical guy. After tipping over a couple of times during his routine, IGI Special Project Planner Shekinah Hoffman, left, had to reboot the bot. “If you were stressed that about robotics taking control of the world, don’t be,” she deadpanned.

Trainees might choose to series together pre-programmed dance moves, or they might customize each limb and joint to move through specific varieties of motion. The clicking and whirring of its servomechanism announced each action in the dance for the 18-inch robotic. Now if only trainees had access to a smaller sized chimp-bot for the full Michael Jackson experience.

Lindsay Harper, executive director of Core Academy, and Hey Reb! held down judging duties. While some forecast a future of automation, where robots are theorized to displace countless jobs, Hey Reb! did not appear concerned about his future on the sidelines of UNLV video games.

Associate Vice President for Economic Development Zachary Miles wasn’t going to let the robots be the only ones having a dance-off. (Though perhaps he should have.)

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