Robot Improv is the result of ongoing research into displaying believable dramatic behavior on mobile robots and creating an architecture to simply specify such behavior. Two robots perform a short play based on an elementary acting exercise (one actor tries to leave the room, while the other actor tries to get him to stay). Each actor has its own goals, knowledge of its and the other actor's location, and an internal emotional model. The actors decide on their next action and line of dialog based on their current goals and emotional state and the other actor's last actions. There is no pre-determined script, only sets of available actions and dialog for the actors to choose from. Each play is improvised at run-time.
This project was originally developed for an independent study course and based on an idea proposed by our professor, Illah Nourbakhsh, after hearing a talk by Jonathan Knight of Activision at the 1998 AAAI Fall Symposium. So far the robots have performed twice publicly, at our course demo day and as an exhibition at AAAI '99.