August 3, 2009

Robots Offer Helping Hand To Humans In Need

Robots took to the main stage at this year's Campus Party in Spain, where they showcased a variety of new skills aimed at helping humans who have trouble living on their own.

"I am thrilled to be at the Campus Party!" said Nao, a two-foot robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics.

Nao showed off his dancing skills by moving to the rhythm of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".

But Nao has other, more practical skills, including his ability to recognize voices and faces as well as take direction to help humans with tasks such as turning on their computer, reading e-mails and helping patients with Alzheimer's through a series of memory exercises.

"It is a companion robot; at the same time it is a robot that can help with day to day tasks," Romain Daros of Aldebaran Robotics told AFP.

Elsewhere at the showcase, Spanish bank BBVA's innovation center showed off Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology's robot Paro, which resembles a seal pup. Developers said Paro was designed to help people with cognitive problems.

Paro can be used with children in pediatric wards as well as to help people with autism.

"A seal was chosen because it does not arouse any emotional memories, like a dog or a cat would," Ignacio Villoch, the marketing director of BBVA's innovation center, told AFP.

Not too far away, there was a robot that learns how to perform tasks by observing humans.

Sylvain Calinon of Switzerland's Federal Institute of Technology said his robot has already learned how to beat eggs and cut ham for omelets.

"We can imagine for example that it could feed people who can't feed themselves with their own hands," said Calinon.


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