Scientists at Poland’s Wroclaw University of Technology are taking human-robot interaction to another level with their EMYS android, which expresses human-like dispositions, such as anger, surprise, confusion joy, and sadness. The researchers say they are working towards a future where people and machines will interact in an entirely natural way. Jim Drury reports.

The ability to feel and express emotion help separate humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. It also distinguishes us from our constantly evolving creation – the robot. But Polish scientists believe they’ve taken a huge leap forward in bridging the android-human interaction gap. They’ve devised what they call the EMotive headY System – EMYS for short – a robot which expresses various human-like emotions and moods. One moment EMYS can show surprise………..the next joy………….it can even get upset.

Chief designer Professor Krzysztof Tchon believes EMYS will allow for much closer relationships between people and robots. SOUNDBITE (Polish) EMYS CONSTRUCTOR, PROFESSOR KRZYSZTOF TCHON, SAYING: “The robot is meant to accompany humans in their domestic environment or at the office. It has to be useful to humans, so it has to perform some functions useful for humans. And it is supposed to accompany humans for long periods of time, so it has to be polite.

That’s why the robot is able to express emotions to a certain degree and also read humans emotions and react accordingly.” The automaton uses an animated neck, three discs and a set of eyes to express nine different emotional states. Jan Kedzierski helped design and build EMYS. SOUNDBITE (Polish) EMYS CONSTRUCTOR, JAN KEDZIERSKI, SAYING: “The construction of the robot can be divided into three parts – the balancing platform, torso with hands and the head. The balancing platform is interesting because it behaves very naturally, the way a human behaves. Constructing the arms was quite a challenge because they had to be both light and capable of certain gestures. The most interesting part is the head, comprised of two discs and moving eyes, allowing the expression of certain emotions.” The robot was designed as a part of a European Union research program.

Its creators say the development of robots like EMYS, able to communicate without speech, represents a potentially huge breakthrough in android evolution. They hope their machine will herald a time when human-robot interaction is natural and unselfconscious, a future they say is well within sight. Jim Drury, Reuters.


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