Scientists at UC San Diego’s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) have equipped a robot modeled after the famed theoretical physicist with specialized software that allows it to interact with humans in a relatively natural, conversational way. The so-called “Einstein Robot,” which was designed by Hanson Robotics of Dallas, Texas, recognizes a number of human facial expressions and can respond accordingly. Scientists consider it an unparalleled tool for understanding how both robots and humans perceive emotion, as well as a potential platform for teaching, entertainment, fine arts and even cognitive therapy.
“In the short-term, Einstein is being used to develop computer vision so we can see how computers perceive facial expressions and develop hardware to visually react,” says Javier Movellan, a research scientist in the Calit2-based UCSD Machine Perception Laboratory (MPL). “This robot is a scientific instrument that we hope will tell us something about human-robot interaction, but also human-to-human interaction.
The Einstein Robot — a head-and-shoulders automaton complete with unruly white hair and bushy mustache — made its public debut at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference in Long Beach last week. David Hanson, the robot’s primary designer and owner of Hanson Robotics, amazed a crowd of 1,500 with Einstein’s capacity to understand and mimic expressions. Several graduate students from the MPL accompanied Hanson to the conference, which was established to facilitate creative collaborations among scientists, entrepreneurs and designers.
via Estimate of the Situation™ 2009: Robot Shows Emotional Intelligence.