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World’s most human-like robot, Nadine, provokes sense of uneasiness among observers

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World’s most human-like robot, Nadine, provokes sense of uneasiness among observers

December 31st, 2015, by Chris Draper

 

The world got a glimpse of the most human-like robot ever created with the debut of a humanoid named Nadine at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Made in the image of her creator, Prof. Nadia Thalmann, Nadine will eventually provide childcare and offer companionship to elderly people.

Researchers are on the verge of developing robots which are practically indistinguishable from people. But these robots are by no means dormant dolls. In addition to greeting visitors, making eye contact and shaking hands, Nadine is capable of recognizing former guests and making conversation based upon previous chitchats.(1)

What makes Nadine truly unique, however, is that she has her own personality, moods and emotions. Her shifting temper can vacillate from happy to sad, depending upon the topic of conversation. In fact, some scientists worry Nadine is too human-like by prompting a sense of disgust among observers, otherwise known as the uncanny valley effect.

THE UNCANNY VALLEY EFFECT BE DAMNED

Nevertheless, researchers are not worried about the feeling of uneasiness Nadine provokes among the general public. She was built by NTU’s School of Computer Engineering and designed to look as much like her creator, Thalmann, as possible. Nadine’s keen memory that enables her to recall previous conversations is fueled by intelligence software on par with Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana.

Creators of the robot hope that breakthroughs in silicon chips, sensors and lasers will make Nadine-like robots commonplace in homes and offices, and provide companionship for the young and elderly. With these tasks in mind, Nadine’s first occupation takes the form of a university receptionist.

“Robotics technologies have advanced significantly over the past few decades and are already being used in manufacturing and logistics,” she said.(2)

“As countries worldwide face challenges of an aging population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for healthcare services in future.”(2)

“Over the past four years, our team at NTU have been fostering cross-disciplinary research in social robotics technologies — involving engineering, computer science, linguistics, psychology and other fields — to transform a virtual human, from within a computer, into a physical being that is able to observe and interact with other humans.”(2)

“This is somewhat like a real companion that is always with you and conscious of what is happening. So in future, these socially intelligent robots could be like C-3PO, the iconic golden droid from Star Wars, with knowledge of language and etiquette.”(2)

MEET EDGAR ALLAN ROBO

In addition to Nadine, NTU researchers also touted a new telepresence robot named Edgar. Whereas Nadine is designed to serve as a personal assistant, Edgar is built to enable users to control it from anywhere across the globe, despite geographical constraints.

Edgar mimics various gesticulations after it registers human movement with a specialized webcam, which records upper body movement and facial expressions. Furthermore, Edgar has his own webcam, which enables him to meet new people and engage in conversation.

“In future, a renowned educator giving lectures or classes to large groups of people in different locations at the same time could become commonplace,” Associate Professor Gerald Sheet from NTU’s School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering told sources. “Or you could attend classes or business meetings all over the world using robot proxies, saving time and travel costs.”(1)

Many companies have expressed interest in these burgeoning technologies. According to the NTU scientists, the next step is to build partnerships with interested firms in order to bring the robots to the open market.

Check Nadine out in action in the video below:

Sources include:

(1) GizMag.com

(2) Telegraph.co.uk

 
Source: robotics.news
 
 



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