How will humans interact with the robots of the future?
BERTI and the Feelix Growing Nursery are robots developed by UK labs to help scientists answer this increasingly important question and will be on show in the Science Museum’s Antenna Gallery on 17 – 19 February 2009.
A joint project between Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) and Elumotion, BERTI is a life size humanoid robot built to mimic a key component of human communication: gesturing. Visitors to the Antenna Gallery will witness BERTI’s amazing gestural abilities and get the chance to participate in live research by telling scientists how they rate BERTI’s performance.
Visitors will have the opportunity to stand facing BERTI while he gives a prepared speech accompanied with his repertoire of hand and arm gestures. They will then be asked to complete a short questionnaire rating the quality of BERTI’s gestural abilities. A camera will record participants’ own gestural and emotional responses to BERTI. The data collected will become part of a wider study into the interface between humans and robots.
Kat Nilsson, Contemporary Science Manager, Science Museum said:
“As robots become ever more sophisticated and find their way into our homes and workplaces, it’s vital that we feel comfortable in their presence. Many scientists are studying how robots and humans interact in order to create robots that people are happy to work and live alongside. BERTI is a perfect example of the today’s experiments into robotics. This is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to the Science Museum to be part of a cutting edge robotics experiment.”
Researchers from BRL will manage the experiment, while experts from Elumotion will be on hand to talk about the aims of the research project and the hardware and software underpinning BERTI.
Dr Graham Whiteley, co-Director of Elumotion, said:
“We’re working towards the design of future humanoid robots that will be intuitive and natural for people to interact with and that have demonstrable usefulness in everyday life; so that people will accept them to help at home as well as in the workplace. Robots like BERTI could be used for distance communication, where communication between geographically remote people could be achieved using the robots as physical avatars to imitate the facial appearance and body movements of the remote person. Such robots could also be used to provide a physically human-like interface to the internet for educational and entertainment purposes, such as bringing ‘Einstein’ or other famous figures into the classroom.”
The Robot Playground will also display a group of robots from a ‘robot nursery’ developed by Dr Lola Cañamero as part of the European Feelix Growing Project, led by University of Hertfordshire. The nursery will contain different types of baby robots: an expressive robotic head, Aibo dog-robots and humanoid Nao robots. Like any good human nursery, these robots will be given a play mat and some toys to explore, while being watched over by human caregivers.
The expressive robot head responds to the emotions of humans sat facing it. Visitors will get the opportunity to see it express its own emotions and play peek-a-boo with it. The Aibo dog robots will invite people to become their caregivers, using visual and tactile contact to relieve distress. Toys will also be on hand to calm these playful canine robots. Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire will be on hand to seek feedback from visitors to the event.
Dr Lola Cañamero, leader of the Feelix Growing project, said:
“The aim is to develop robots that grow up and adapt to humans in their everyday environments. If robots are to be truly integrated in humans’ everyday lives as companions or carers, they cannot be just taken off the shelf and put into a real-life setting, they need to live and grow interacting with and learning from humans, to adapt to their preferences, personalities, and emotional states. For example, if the human bursts into tears, the robot will gradually learn whether it is better to try to comfort them or leave them alone.”
Meet BERTI, the robot who can mimic human gestures. Watch BERTI speak and wave his arms about. Care for baby robots in a nursery and help them learn. Talk to the scientists behind these emotional machines and take part in real experiments.
17 – 19 February 2009, 11am – 1pm and 2pm – 4pm
Science Museum is open from 10am – 6pm daily and is free to visit.
Nearest Tube: South Kensington
For further information, images or to arrange interviews please contact Andrew Marcus in the Science Museum Press Office – 020 7942 4357 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
1. The Science Museum’s Wellcome Wing has been made possible by two major benefactions. In the first major lottery award to the sciences, the Heritage Lottery Fund has contributed £23m and, in one of the largest grants ever made to a museum in this country, the Wellcome Trust, the independent medical research charity, has donated £17.75m.
2. Further generous support for the Antenna gallery is provided by Nature and Science.