Friday, May 25, 2007

Leonardo, A Social Robot

One of my grad school friends turned MIT professor, Cynthia Breazeal, has teamed up with Stan Winston Studios of animatronic movie robot fame to create an astounding new robot named Leonardo.

Photographs, copyright Sam Ogden

This little artificial creature was not designed to move around or navigate, but rather to interact socially with humans. 61 different motors (32 in the face alone) articulate its limbs, hands, digits, expressive facial features, eyelids, and ears so that it can communicate its artificial feelings.

Photograph, copyright Sam Ogden

The software driving the robot is also interesting, and designed to learn by visual and verbal example, just as humans do. The video available through the preceding link is a little spooky in that regard. You can also check out the technical paper here, C. Breazeal, G. Hoffman, and A. Lockerd (2004). "Teaching and Working with Robots as a Collaboration."

Be sure to hunt around the main Leonardo web site for more movies foretelling our robotic future.

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