ATLANTA - A U.S. Senator has listed Georgia Tech's dancing robot as one of top most egregious wastes of taxpayer money, but the school says the project is actually a boost to the economy.
Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has released his 2012 Waste Book. Among his top 100 examples of wasted tax dollars are $450,000 spent on an Oklahoma airport that averages one flight a month, $27-million in federal tax dollars spent on Moroccan pottery classes, and $947,000 spent to test what astronauts might eat on Mars.
READ | Senator Coburn's Waste Book
Number 74 on Sen. Corburn's list is a $547,430 federal grant awarded to Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology. Part of that grant was used to develop Shimi, the dancing robot.
Georgia Tech has promoted Shimi as a musical companion that uses your smart phone as its brain.
Shimi bobs its robotic head and taps its foot to the music you select. It will even pick up on your movements and choose a song to match.
"If they want a musical companion, they should find other ways to finance it," a viewer wrote on the 11Alive Facebook page.
Georgia Tech says the school's Center for Music Technology used less than $100,000 of the grant on Shimi. The rest of the money has been used for other robotic like the development of Shimone, a mechanical marimba player.
We asked to talk to the head of Tech's Center for Music Technology. Instead the school's communications department sent us a statement.
"Georgia Tech's research in music technology has resulted in three companies and the creation of jobs," the statement reads. "This research has applications beyond music as it helps to create more sophisticated robots that can interact with people and enhance our lives."
Tech says the company that grew out of the Shimi project has created four jobs this year.
"It's inventions like this that spur the human endeavor to create more and better products," a viewer wrote on the 11Alive Facebook page.
Tovbot, the company that has developed from the creation of Shimi, is hoping to have dancing robot on store shelves by next Christmas.