July 30, 2008

Inventors Unveil Human Robot

What breathes, gets upset, and responds to touch but isn't human? It's not a riddle, rather it's a robot invented by scientists at the University of the West in Bristol, England.

The Heart Robot - half machine and half puppet - stole the show at the Emotibots event at London's Science Museum, which coincides with the release of new robot film WALL-E.

The new invention has a beating heart, a breathing belly, and sensors that respond to movement, noise and touch.

Cuddle him, and the childlike machine appears to soak up the affection. His limbs become limp, his eyelids lower, his breathing relaxes, and his heartbeat slows down.

However, if you give Heart Robot a violent shake, or shout in his face, he will get upset. He flinches, his hands clench, his breathing and heart rate speed up, and his eyes widen.

Organizer Holly Cave said, "Kids either want to look after him like a doll or baby, or scare him."

Scientists created the robot, to explore what happens when machines interact emotionally with humans. In the end, he revealed something about the psychological differences between pre-teen children.

Cave described his appearance, "Heart Robot looks like a cross between ET and Gollum and is about the size of a small child."

According to the Heart Robot website the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Walking With Robots, the Jester Comedy Club, and the University of the West of England all supported the Heart Robot project.

Also climbing its way into the Emotibots event this week is Hexapod, a six-legged metallic spidery robot that tracks people's faces and latches onto visitors who walk around it.

If a person holds Hexapod's gaze long enough what it sees is downloaded and projected onto a plasma screen.


Image Caption: I need a hug: The Heart Robot is the star of the Emotibots exhibition (PA)


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