Saturday, April 7, 2007

Robots with feelings

Researchers in the UK claim to have developed emotive robots that bond like human children. The 1.68 million pound Feelix Growing Project, a global partnership of robotic experts, psychologists and neuroscientists, aims to produce machines that can engage emotionally with humans.

Researchers say the robots will bond with their human handlers in the similar way a child bonds to a trustworthy adult.

According to them, the robots will be able to see, hear, touch and judge the distance between themselves and humans. They will recognise human body language, and respond to emotional states such as anger, fear and happiness. In other words, the robots will display "emotional resonance" — an ability to mimic people’s emotions to enhance positive bonding, said a researcher.

Dr Lola Canamero, who is co-ordinating the Feelix project, Feelix being an acronym of Feel, Interact, express, said one of the first machines — a box on wheels — is already showing imprinted behaviour. "Like a human baby, it has become attached to its ‘mother’ and follows her around," The Independent quoted a report in the Engineer magazine as saying.

According to Dr Canamero, though the robots being built at the University of Hertfordshire will be simple demonstration platforms to test different technologies, some will be given artificial heads capable of producing facial expressions. — ANI