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Scientists Striving to Put a Human Face on the Robot Generation


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Tony Belpaeme

Tony Belpaeme and researchers at Plymouth University are studying the social interaction between humans and a specially designed robot, in a project that could pave the way for a generation of more life-like androids.

Credit: Plymouth University

Plymouth University researchers are studying the social interaction between humans and LightFace, a robot that is capable of producing a range of naturalistic expressions using computer-generated responses that are projected on the face.

Many overseas institutions are currently using the technology, known as the CONCEPT project, including a Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar experiment for a robot receptionist. "Using this computer-generated technology, we can create a new breed of robot, one that is cheaper to produce but is capable of naturalistic expressions that lift it out of the ‘uncanny valley’ that we see with so many anthropomorphic robots," says Plymouth's Tony Belpaeme.

Plymouth students were asked to teach the robot the meaning of words and demonstrate colors and shapes. Following the learning phase, the students' psychological responses were analyzed and used to adjust the robot's mannerisms.

The technology also is being used by researchers in Japan, Germany, and Sweden. "This has the potential to be applied to a huge range of applications, from vending machines to virtual receptionists," says Plymouth's Fred Delaunay.

From Plymouth University
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