Scientists at Tokyo's Waseda University recently demonstrated Kobian, a robot that is able to express emotion with its entire face and body. Kobian can use its arms and legs, open and close its eyes, and move its lips and eyebrows as it expresses emotions ranging from happiness, fear, and surprise to sadness, anger, and disgust. For example, the robot opens its eyes and mouth wide and raises its arms to show happiness, and droops its head and covers its eyes to show sorrow.
Waseda professor Atsuo Takanishi led a research team that spent two and a half years creating Kobian, and they believe it is the first of its kind. The researchers used 48 actuators to give the robot its range of facial and bodily movements, and covered its hands with a soft material to give it the feeling of human hands. Takanishi says expressing feeling is an "important factor" in achieving "natural communication" between robots and humans.
Kobian is still in the prototype stage, and Takanishi says it will likely be several decades before robots are helping people in their homes.
Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA