A pan-European team of robotics researchers began a project this year that could see humanoid bots interact with groups of people in a realistic, anthropomorphic way, for the first time.
The “Humanoids with auditory and visual abilities in populated spaces” (HUMAVIPS) project has the ambitious goal of making humanoid bots just that bit more human by building algorithms that will enable bots to mimic what psychologists call the “cocktail party effect” -– the human ability to focus attention on just one person in the midst of other people, voices and background noise.
If successful, HUMAVIPS will give future humanoid bots something that existing bots don’t possess -– the simple social skills necessary to deal with small groups of people, including the basic intelligence to pick out a group of humans and determine which ones want to interact with it. It could also endow bots with the ability to infer meaning from incoming sense data, which would be a rudimentary step towards truly anthropomorphic robot intelligence.
Led by Radu Horaud, Director of Research at INRIA, the three-year project, which has attracted 2.6m euros in European Commission funding, builds on the POP project (see Wired’s December report), which provided proof-of-concept for the idea that combining auditory and visual information improves a bot’s ability to pick identify human speakers in the midst of background noise.
Read more about HUMAVIPS here.
IEEE Spectrum Online uploaded a fascinating YouTube video July 21st, which shows warehouse robots at work. Developed by MA-based Kiva Systems, these little bots engage in a delicate ballet as they carry goods around the warehouse floor.
The robots read barcode stickers embedded in the floor to move around and are powered by a single DC motor.
The concept of a self-organizing warehouse is also upon us: Kiva System’s robots can automatically move popular goods to the best collection point, while leaving less popular items at the back of the warehouse.
That’s the last we’ll see of The Lisbon Treaty then, right?
The IFR Statistical Department publishes an annual study called “World Robotics,” that carries an array of global statistics about both industrial and service robots.
The latest version –World Robotics 2008– was published last month and the figures make for interesting reading. Given that we’ve been looking at domestic robots in recent posts, I thought the following figures related to “service robots for personal and private use” were worth sharing: (more…)
Early last week scientists released research which found that the more human-like features a robot possesses, the more we engage cortical regions associated with mental state attribution/mentalizing in their presence.