Thursday, June 17, 2010

Robot babies

The Japanese have done it again. They set another step towards replacing themselves with this robot baby, cutely called 'Noby'.

The rationalization behind the project is that the prototype should help scientists understand the learning process of infants. This they intend to do by programming several behaviors into the babybot, seeing how they react to actual, meat-based people, and comparing this to the behavior of real children.

Next to the knowledge generated by the project, the scientists state that this project should lead to the development of more human-like robots with better social behavior.

Noby is also quite a technological feat: it simulates the human senses with cameras, microphones, and 600 sensors that allow it to feel touch.

If I may suggest an improvement, I would press on the aesthetic of the thing: from a superficial perspective, it just looks rather creepy. If we want robotic realizations to radiate a positive light towards the 'mainstream' people, it starts by the simple notion of making it look nice and acceptable. Noby was definitely born in the uncanny valley, and needs to start crawling its way up like a baby turtle to the sea.

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