February 18, 2009

Robot Challenges Humans To Rock-Paper-Scissors

London's Science Museum on Tuesday announced the acquisition of its newest, and youngest, employee.

At just under two years old, Berti the robot can interact with museum visitors by playing a game of rock-paper-scissors.

Developed by Bristol Robotics Laboratory and Elumotion, Berti, which stands for Bristol Elumotion Robotic Torso 1 mimics human interaction. Researchers hope the robot will offer new insight into the way future robots are developed.

"We are working towards the design of future humanoid robots that will be intuitive and natural for people to interact with," said Graham Whiteley of Elumotion.

"Robots like Berti could be used in the development of prosthetic limbs for people who have been in car accidents or to carry out extremely dangerous jobs such as land mine clearance."

Berti greets visitors with a short speech, and visitors are asked to rate his gestures and movements in terms of "naturalness."

The robot features nine motors in each hand and cost roughly £200,000 ($285,000) to create.

"We were originally approached in 2005 approached to built a robotic platform with human gesturing," Whiteley told TechRadar. "We looked at anatomy and biomechanics and designed some new joints for the wrist, elbow and shoulder.

"We also designed a new hand with nine degrees of freedom "“ so you have full trigger fingering [effectively the equivalent of two knuckles] in digits two and three, full flexibility of the thumb, spreading of the fingers and so on."

"Berti was certainly a challenge to build... but the result is a robot which is as sophisticated as anything else out there," said Elumotion's Craig Fletcher.

"This is the first time we have brought Berti out of the lab so it is great to have it here at the museum and meeting people."


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