Sao Paulo samba school calls on robots to bring home carnival crown


SAO PAULO (Reuters) – The drummers of the Rosas de Ouro samba school will have some unusual new assistants when they compete for their eighth title in the Sao Paulo carnival parade this year – robots.

Alongside the colorful floats and sparkling costumes, traditional samba school Rosas has picked “modern times” as its theme for 2020 and is partnering with universities to enhance the experience with cutting-edge technology.

The project — called Carnival 4.0 — will see robots distribute drum sticks to the drummers, who often break them in their exuberance, while virtual reality lets people put themselves in the middle of the competition even if they are unable to attend.

Filters on popular social media sites will also allow fans to dress up virtually in the samba school’s elaborate outfits.

“We realized that it was not enough to talk about (the technology), we had to bring it to the parade,” said Elcio Brito, coordinator of the Carnival 4.0 project.

The project is a partnership between Rosas, the University of Sao Paulo, the FEI University Center and the Maua Technological Institute, as well as various industry partners that provided the hardware and software for the project.

Rosas de Ouro has won the Sao Paulo samba school competition seven times and is hoping to grab the top spot again this year, with a little help from some non-human friends.

Reporting by Leonard Benassatto; Writing by Stephen Eisenhammer; Editing by David Gregorio