Drawn from the life: the world’s first robot artist

Meet Ai-Da, the world’s first realistic humanoid robot artist, who opens her first solo exhibition on June 12.

Developed by Oxford University scientists, Ai-Da has a camera eye from which she can draw from life. She can also paint, sculpt, make video art and perform – she has a voice and can read aloud.

A portrait drawing - work in progress

Her name was given her by Aidan Meller, director of Aidan Meller Galleries, who has curated the exhibition, Unsecured Futures, at St John’s College, St Giles, Oxford, where it runs until July 6. Ai-Da’s name is an acknowledgement to Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who was the first female computer programmer, and to the AI – artificial intelligence – processes and algorithms developed by Oxford scientists.

Aiden Meller with an early Ai-Da

Her creation has been a co-operative project, with her drawing robotic arm made by AI engineers in Leeds using facial recognition technology, and the sculpture ability developed by a Swedish computer scientist.

Ai-Da's bee sculpture, made using her microscopic eye

And while the show exhibits Ai-Da’s own artworks, it also addresses moral questions, such as our relationship with technology and the natural world, and how AI and new technologies can be simultaneously a progressive, disruptive and destructive force in society.



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