European robotics researchers are developing humanoid robots that can interact with groups of people in a realistic, anthropomorphic way. The Humanoids with Auditory and Visual Abilities in Populated Spaces (HUMAVIPS) project aims to design algorithms that will enable robots to focus their attention on just one person when surrounded by other people, voices, and background noise.
The researchers say that if successful, HUMAVIPS would be another step toward anthropomorphic robot intelligence by mimicking the human technique of combining auditory and visual data to focus attention and eliminate unimportant background noise. Building robots that can filter out background noise and focus on one person is a huge challenge, says Brown University professor Chad Jenkins.
"If the robot can pick out speech from the noise in a room, it would be a major breakthrough in humanoid robotics because it means that people would be able to have conversations and interact more naturally with robots," says University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey.
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