Friday, 14 January 2011

Robots That Develop Emotions in Interaction with Humans

The first prototype robots capable of developing emotions as they interact with their human caregivers and expressing a range of emotions have been finalised by our researchers.

Led by Dr. Lola Ca├▒amero at the School of Computer Science, and in collaboration with a consortium of universities and robotic companies across Europe, these robots differ from others in the way that they form attachments, interact and express emotion through bodily expression.

Developed as part of the interdisciplinary project FEELIX GROWING (Feel, Interact, eXpress: a Global approach to development with Interdisciplinary Grounding) , funded by the European Commission and coordinated by Dr. Ca├▒amero, the robots have been developed so that they learn to interact with and respond to humans in a similar way as children learn to do it, and use the same types of expressive and behavioural cues that babies use to learn to interact socially and emotionally with others.

The robots have been created through modelling the early attachment process that human and chimpanzee infants undergo with their caregivers when they develop a preference for a primary caregiver.

They are programmed to learn to adapt to the actions and mood of their human caregivers, and to become particularly attached to an individual who interacts with the robot in a way that is particularly suited to its personality profile and learning needs. The more they interact, and are given the appropriate feedback and level of engagement from the human caregiver, the stronger the bond developed and the amount learned.

The robots are capable of expressing anger, fear, sadness, happiness, excitement and pride and will demonstrate very visible distress if the caregiver fails to provide them comfort when confronted by a stressful situation that they cannot cope with or to interact with them when they need it.

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