Renown roboticist David Hanson contributed to a new “social robot” project at UCSD (body by Japan’s Kokoro Co.), the program where his “Einstein” Hubobot head received so much public attention a few years ago. Hanson brings his own custom polymers, engineering, and sculpting prowess to the task of granting the robot a tremendous range of emotional expressions that mimmick a one-year old child, allowing the project to both abstract the tools a child uses when learning how to respond to its environment as well as skewing the experience for the perceiver towards that of responding to a living child.
From the notes accompanying the video:
“DIEGO-SAN”, by Hanson for the Machine Perception Lab at the UCSD Institute for Neural Computation. With a face by David Hanson and Hanson Robotics, which mounts on a body by Kokoro, this robotic baby boy was built with funding from the National Science Foundation and serves cognitive A.I. and human-robot interaction research. With high definition cameras in the eyes, Diego San sees people, gestures, expressions, and uses A.I. modeled on human babies, to learn from people, the way that a baby hypothetically would. The facial expressions are important to establish a relationship, and communicate intuitively to people. As much a work of art as technology and science, this represents a step forward in the development of emotionally relevant robotics, building on previous work of David Hanson with the Machine Perception Lab such as the emotionally responsive Einstein shown at TED in 2009 (see his TED talk and tech demo of his Hubobot).