Wednesday, 05 Mar, 2008 Science

Robots to Become Our Closest Friends Soon


A humanoid baby robot able to pick up language skills and interact with humans will be released next year.

Scientists at the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Computer Science in collaboration with an international consortium led by the University of Plymouth on ITALK (Integration and Transfer of Action and Language Knowledge in Robots) start the experiment on March, 1.

The iCub, a small robot that is one meter high will be taught to speak to make it able to interact with humans. Professor Chrystopher Nehaniv and Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, who are leading European research in Artificial Intelligence and Human Robot Interaction, will use practically the same methods of teaching language as parents use when they teach their children.

During the experiment the robot will perform typical tasks to learn basic abilities such as matching the objects with the corresponding holes in a box or sorting different objects, like nested cups and stacking wooden blocks. In order to teach iCub different phrases, it will be asked to name all the objects and actions it makes.

Researchers believe that the robot will use its learning skills to acquire social abilities. The iCub will be using language just like children learn from their parents, by imitating and interacting with the environment.

The study has an important role for developing of interactive robotic systems that will become available in the next ten years.

Professor Dautenhahn explained that iCub will become new robots that could act like social companions. Scientists have already studied the way people want robots to look like and their closeness to people and said that such humanoid robots will be available within a year.

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