I’ve actually been looking at telepresence robots, in anticipation of the fact that I might actually invest in one. More on that later, but a couple of bots I saw profiled today has turned my attention to the expressiveness of robots, in human terms.
I was watching the BBC’s Where’s My Robot? the other day on the Science Channel (a great channel to tune into if your cable provider has it). Remember that Japanese professor some time back created that robotic doppelganger? In watching the robot in action on the show, it was very clear that there still is a great deal of work to be done in making humanoid robots that look like humans and aren’t distractingly slightly less than perfect.
The first one is the TOFU, which is squishy and very reminiscent of the type of stuff my kids watch on Nick and Noggin. It looks a little like a Furby in the still pictures, but watching it make expressions in the video really sells it.
The second bot is an inevitably prohibitively expensive yet still awesome bot focused on emotional expression named Nexi (pronounced Nix-ee).
From watching both, it’s very clear that these robots do a much better job than any of the bots you see from the Where is My Robot? show impersonating a human, in spirit at the very least.