The Sociable Machine Projects of Robot

The ability for people to naturally communicate with such machines is important. However for suitably complex environment and tasks, the ability for people to intuitively teach these robots will also be important. Ideally, the robot could engage in various forms of social learning, so that one could teach the robot just as one would teach another person. Learning by demonstration to acquire physical skills such as pole balancing, learning by imitation to acquire a proto-language, and learning to imitate in order to produce a sequence of gestures have been explored on physical humanoid robots and physic based animated humanoids.

Although current work in imitation-based learning with humanoid robot has dominantly focused on articulated motor coordination, social and emotional aspects can play profound role in building robots that can communicate with and learn from people.

The Sociable Machine Project develops an expressive anthropomorphic robot called Kismet that engage people in natural and expressive face to face interaction. The robot is about 1.5 the size of an adult human head and has a total of 21 degrees of freedom (DoF). Three DoF direct the robot’s gaze, another three controls the orientation of its head, and the remaining 15 move its facial features. To visually perceive the person who interacts with it, Kismet is equipped with a total of four color CCD cameras. In addition, Kismet has two small microphones (one mounted on each ear).

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