Child Robot- CB2
The creators of the Child-robot with Biomimetic Body, or CB2, say it’s slowly developing social skills by interacting with humans and watching their facial expressions, mimicking a mother-baby relationship. (Pics)
A bald, child-like creature dangles its legs from a chair as its shoulders rise and fall with rythmic breathing and its black eyes follow movements across the room.
It’s not human — but it is paying attention.
Below the soft silicon skin of one of Japan’s most sophisticated robots, processors record and evaluate information. The 130-cm (four-foot, four-inch) humanoid is designed to learn just like a human infant.
“Babies and infants have very, very limited programmes. But they have room to learn more,” said Osaka University professor Minoru Asada, as his team’s 33 kilogram (73 pound) invention kept its eyes glued to him.
The team is trying to teach the pint-sized android to think like a baby who evaluates its mother’s countless facial expressions and “clusters” them into basic categories, such as happiness and sadness.
Asada’s project brings together robotics engineers, brain specialists, psychologists and other experts, and is supported by the state-funded Japan Science and Technology Agency.
With 197 film-like pressure sensors under its light grey rubbery skin, CB2 can also recognise human touch, such as stroking of its head.
The robot can record emotional expressions using eye-cameras, then memorise and match them with physical sensations, and cluster them on its circuit boards, said Asada.
The professor, also a member of the Japanese Society of Baby Science, said his team has made progress on other fronts since first presenting CB2 to the world in 2007.
In the two years since then, he said, CB2 has taught itself how to walk with the aid of a human and can now move its body through a room quite smoothly, using 51 “muscles” driven by air pressure.
In coming decades, Asada expects science will come up with a “robo species” that has learning abilities somewhere between those of a human and other primate species such as the chimpanzee.