August 4, 2010

Robot That Mimics Speech And Gestures Unveiled

Japanese researchers unveiled a robot on Sunday that can mimic speech and gestures sent to it by video-phone, replicating a distant caller's presence.

The robot, which has no legs and just stumps for arms, is designed to be able to appear like many different ages and easily transportable.

Hiroshi Ishiguro, the creator of the Telenoid R1, has tried to replicate living humans in the past.  He once developed a robot replica of himself that he named Geminoid HI-1.

He also came up with a lifelike female robot known as Gemnoid F.

The Telenoid R1 can be used as a communication device so that people can "chat" from long distances.  The robot is supposed to be able to transmit the presence of a person from a distant place.

In order to operate the robot, a user must sit at a computer with a welcome screen that tracks the user's movements and captures their voice.

Actuators in the robot's body help it to move in a realistic way.

The Telenoid R1 will be demonstrated at this year's Ars Electronica festival in Linza, Austria.

Ishiguro says, "the unique appearance may be eerie when we first see it.  However, once we communicate with other by using the telenoid, we can adapt to it."

"If a friend speaks from the telenoid, we can imagine the friend's face on the telenoid's face."

"If we embrace it, we have the feeling, that we embrace the friend."

The robot will go on sale for about $34,000 for research purposes and $8,000 for commercial purposes.

Image: Osaka University and ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories