Lonely souls could now look forward to a unique company, thanks to European scientists who have unveiled the world’s first robot which is able to display and detect human emotions.
The humanoid machine, called Nao, which hunches its shoulders when it feels sad and raises its arms for a hug when it’s happy, has been designed to mimic the emotional skills of a one-year-old child, say the scientists.
Nao is able to detect human emotions through a series of non-verbal “clues”, like body-language and facial expressions, and becomes more adept at reading a person’s mood through prolonged interaction.
The robot, which is capable of forming bonds with people who treat it with kindness, uses video cameras to detect how close a person comes and sensors to work out how tactile they are, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.
The wiring of the robot’s “brain”, designed to mirror the neural network of the human mind, allows it to remember its interactions with different people and memorise the faces.
This understanding, along with a set of basic rules about what is “good” and “bad” for it, allow the robot to indicate whether it is “sad” or “happy”, the scientists have claimed.
The actions used to display each emotion are preprogrammed but Nao decides by itself which feeling to display, and when.
“We’re modelling the first years of life. We are working on non-verbal cues and the emotions are revealed through physical postures, gestures and movements of the body rather than facial or verbal expression,” said Lola Caro, of Hertfordshire University, who led a team which created Nao.
Dr. Caro believes that robots will act as human companions in future.
“Those responses make a huge difference for people to be able to interact naturally with a robot. If people can behave naturally around their robot companions, robots will be better-accepted as they become more common in our lives,” Dr. Caro said.