Polish Robot Coaxes Expressiveness Out of Weird Design

Emys may look a little strange, but he makes up for it with an unexpected amount of expressiveness

1 min read
Polish Robot Coaxes Expressiveness Out of Weird Design

We're always impressed by how much expressiveness and emotion can be squeezed out of even the simplest robot faces if they're cleverly done, and Emys (for "emotive head system"), a robot from the Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland, is a fantastic example. Just watch:

Yeah, I didn't entirely get all that either, but that "surprise" face is priceless. For a less, um, dramatic run-through of all of the expressions that Emys can make, there's another video here.

Emys is part of the LIREC Project, which is a European research project that's "exploring how to design digital and interactive companions who can develop and read emotions and act cross-platform." In short, they're trying to figure out how to make robots a little more fun to hang out with, by giving them some tools to tell how you're feeling, and giving you an expressive face (of sorts) to look at.

This disembodied head also comes with a fancy wheeled Segway-style body called FLASH, and there's even an arm. Just one arm, yeah, but that's enough to shake hands and give a thumbs-up, and who could want anything more than that?

[ Emys ] via [ Telegraph ] and [ Robot Living ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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