Friday, 18 Jul, 2008 Technology

Robots to Become Our Shoulder to Cry on


Robots to Become Our Shoulder to Cry onScientists are developing robots that will be able to recognize person's emotional state and respond to it with empathy. The breakthrough software to make robots more sensitive to our mood is called Feelix Growing.

Learning the robot to determine if a person is sad, angry or happy is achieved with the help of artificial neural networks. The European researchers, working on this project create simple robots from available parts with built-in cameras and sensors that can perceive different facial expressions and voice tones to learn about the emotional state of a person.

To create such an empathic robot, scientists need to integrate their knowledge in various fields, including robotics, adaptive systems, developmental and comparative psychology, neuroscience and ethology.

The study claims to teach robots detect even the slightest differences in emotional state. For example, if a person cries out in pain, the robot will alter its behavior and act more comforting. Otherwise, if a person cries out in happiness, the robot will react to give a positive feedback.

"We are focusing on emotions relevant to a baby robot that has to grow and help human with everyday life", coordinator of the project Dr. Lola Canamero said.

The project that started in 2007 involves six countries and 25 experts in robotics, developmental psychologists and neuroscientists and is expected to last for three years.

The main purpose of the research is to adapt a robot to human emotions and respond to them, as these robots will be useful to sick people, the elderly, and many others who will need them as a helping hand or for fun. Researchers also plan to develop the robot's face so that it could appear more expressive.

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