A UCSD news release touts their new android child that is designed to mimic the expressions of a one year old human child as it learns to control its body and interact with humans. There have been a lot of creepy baby-headed robots lately but you may notice this one is a little less creepy and a little more life-like than others. Why? Because the android combines the work of some of the best technology out there: Japanese humanoid robotics hardware and a Hanson Robotics head. David Hanson's android heads have received wide-spread recognition as the most human-like and expressive around. From the news release:
"We developed machine-learning methods to analyze face-to-face interaction between mothers and infants, to extract the underlying social controller used by infants, and to port it to Diego-san. We then analyzed the resulting interaction between Diego-san and adults. 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."
Diego-San was developed at the Machine Perception Lab and funded by the National Science Foundation. The robot is another small step towards robots that are able to interact emotionally with humans. There's still a long way to go, particularly with the development of affective systems in the robot itself. Most work to date has been on expressing simulated affects and on recognizing emotions in humans. For more, seen an earlier UCSD article on the development of Diego-San. Read on for some cool video of Diego-San in action.