German Industrial Bot Takes Up the Art of Portraiture

Sketchbot graciously ignores your wrinkles and imperfections

Fraunhofer Sketchbot

Sketchbot is programmed to ignore your wrinkles and draw a more youthful you.Fraunhofer IOSB

Though he was destined for manual labor, countless days spent toiling in the factory could not dampen this robot's dream. He was built to examine how objects reflect light, but he never failed to see the beauty in the patterns of light bouncing off a mundane object, say a child's backpack. He always wanted to be an artist, he just needed the chance!

Now the robot has been reassigned, fulfilling his ambitions to make awkwardly flabby line drawings of his human masters.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation equipped him with a camera and image processing software. Algorithms translate contrasts in the picture into robotic pencil strokes. The robot was even programmed to overlook a subject's tiny wrinkles, making the portrait-sitter look much more youthful.

The sketching industrial robot will be on display at a conference in Hanover, Germany, next month.