robocalypse

This robot maintains tender, unnerving eye contact

Posted by | Gadgets, hardware, robocalypse, robotics, WTF | No Comments

Humans already find it unnerving enough when extremely alien-looking robots are kicked and interfered with, so one can only imagine how much worse it will be when they make unbroken eye contact and mirror your expressions while you heap abuse on them. This is the future we have selected.

The Simulative Emotional Expression Robot, or SEER, was on display at SIGGRAPH here in Vancouver, and it’s definitely an experience. The robot, a creation of Takayuki Todo, is a small humanoid head and neck that responds to the nearest person by making eye contact and imitating their expression.

It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s pretty complex to execute well, which, despite a few glitches, SEER managed to do.

At present it alternates between two modes: imitative and eye contact. Both, of course, rely on a nearby (or, one can imagine, built-in) camera that recognizes and tracks the features of your face in real time.

In imitative mode the positions of the viewer’s eyebrows and eyelids, and the position of their head, are mirrored by SEER. It’s not perfect — it occasionally freaks out or vibrates because of noisy face data — but when it worked it managed rather a good version of what I was giving it. Real humans are more expressive, naturally, but this little face with its creepily realistic eyes plunged deeply into the uncanny valley and nearly climbed the far side.

Eye contact mode has the robot moving on its own while, as you might guess, making uninterrupted eye contact with whoever is nearest. It’s a bit creepy, but not in the way that some robots are — when you’re looked at by inadequately modeled faces, it just feels like bad VFX. In this case it was more the surprising amount of empathy you suddenly feel for this little machine.

That’s largely due to the delicate, childlike, neutral sculpting of the face and highly realistic eyes. If an Amazon Echo had those eyes, you’d never forget it was listening to everything you say. You might even tell it your problems.

This is just an art project for now, but the tech behind it is definitely the kind of thing you can expect to be integrated with virtual assistants and the like in the near future. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad one I guess we’ll find out together.

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Humans sow seeds of destruction by abusing poor robot just trying to walk through a door

Posted by | biomimetic, boston dynamics, Gadgets, robocalypse, robotics, spot mini, TC | No Comments

 You may remember last week that Boston Dynamics’ latest robot has learned to open doors. Seems like at this point you don’t want to anger them. They will find you. Or rather, they’ll find the company’s designated robot abuser and punish him for stopping poor robots from doing what they have been told to do. Soon Spot Mini will not be the one on a leash. Read More

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Robots will touch more tenderly when they wear this sensitive skin

Posted by | biomimetic, Gadgets, robocalypse, robotics, robots, science, TC | No Comments

 Robots increasingly have to interact with ordinary (that is to say, human-focused) objects and environments, and part of that is imitating the extremely delicate and complex human grip. A new type of electronic skin allows a robot to feel not just the pressure from its grip, but whether and in what direction an object is sliding or slipping. Read More

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Seriously, this skull-drilling robot is good news for humanity

Posted by | Gadgets, Health, robocalypse, robotics, robots, science, surgery, TC, telemedicine, University of Bern | No Comments

 When someone invents a robot specifically made to drill into the skulls of unconscious, immobile humans, you’d be forgiven for feeling a natural reaction along the lines of “for the love of God, why?” But trust me, this particular robotic trepanation station is a good idea. Read More

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Scientists teach machines to hunt and kill humans — in Doom deathmatch mode

Posted by | artificial intelligence, Doom, Gaming, machine learning, neural networks, robocalypse, science, TC | No Comments

terminator t-800 You know how sometimes you look at a piece of research and think, “I suppose it’s an interesting technical problem, but isn’t teaching an AI to hunt and kill humans a pursuit fundamentally dangerous to the continued existence of mankind?” This is one of those times. Read More

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SwagBot will autonomously roll them little dogies along rough Australian ranchlands

Posted by | Australia, farming, Gadgets, robocalypse, robotics, robots, TC | No Comments

swagbot_feat Is nothing sacred? The rugged trails that over history have been trod by cowboys, gauchos, ranch hands, and in Australia, swagmen, are now to be presided over by cold, calculating machines. SwagBot is the vanguard of our incoming steer-driving overlords, its independent all-wheel drive churning carelessly the mud in which once toiled our manly forbears and their snorting charges. Read More

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