High energy ahead, a Robot is imitating Obama and smiling at you.
Imitation of human “smile”, “grinning”…
The Robot, called EVA, was developed by Columbia University from China.computerChen Boyuan, a doctoral student majoring in science, leads the research and development.
EVA is a new type of Robot with a soft and expressive face that can respond to expressions such as smiles. For the past five years, the Creative Machines Lab At Columbia Engineering in the United States has been working on the development of EVA.
▍ Will robots with expressions be more like humans?
“The idea for EVA came about a few years ago when my students and I started noticing that the robots in our lab were staring at us with puffy plastic eyes,” said Hod Lipson, director of the Creative Machines Lab. (Hod Lipson) said.
Lipson has also encountered anthropomorphic robots in many other places, wearing name tags and sometimes clothes and hand-knitted hats.
“People anthropomorphic robots by designing their eyes, identities, and clothing,” Lipson imagines. “If you gave such robots an expressive expression, would they become more human-like?”
▍How does a rigid robot smile?
But for roboticists, creating an anthropomorphic robotic face has been a daunting challenge. For decades, robot body parts have been made of metal or hard plastic, materials that are too rigid to be as flexible as human skin.
A few years ago, Lipson’s lab began developing expressive robots, when Zanwar Faraj, an undergraduate student at the time, led a group of students to design the expressive robot EVA. At present, EVA can express six basic emotions, that is, many expressions based on anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise.The way to achieve these 6 emotional expressions is through artificial “muscles” (i.e.cableandmotor) pulls specific points on the EVA’s face to mimic the activity of 42 human facial muscles.
“The biggest challenge in creating an EVA was designing a system that was compact enough to fit enough parts to express expressions in a space the size of a human skull,” Farah said.
▍ EVA who can read expressions
To overcome this challenge, the team used3D printingto fabricate the parts, which are precise and intricately integrated into the EVA’s skull. After weeks of debugging, EVA can make smiles, frowns, or looks upset with a certain authenticity. “One day, when I was thinking about my business, EVA suddenly gave me a friendly smile, and I found myself laughing reflexively,” recalls Lipson.
The mechanical design of EVA includes the following four modules, as shown in the figure below:
A is the motor servo module, and the EVA is driven by it. The module passes through the bottomraspberry pie4 controls. The “skin” is connected to 10 motors via nylon cords to be controlled to make corresponding expressions.
B is the eye module with 6 degrees of freedom of rotation, separated from the anterior skull.
C is an RGB camera, which is used for random data collection of human expressions.
D is the neck module with 6 degrees of freedom.
Once the team was satisfied with the “mechanics” of the EVA, they moved on to the second phase of the project: directing the EVA to program facial movements using artificial intelligence. EVA “reads” other people’s expressions through artificial intelligence by “watching” expression videos, and then reflects them on their own “face”.
In order to teach EVA to recognize what his “face” looks like, the team filmed hours of video of it making various “grimace”.
You can move your eyebrows too
▍Meet people’s emotional needs
While facial expressions play a huge role in building trust, most bots today are still static poker faces. As robots become more and more used in everyday life, there will be a growing need for a robot with a faster response and a more realistic surface. For example, nursing robots in hospitals, educational robots in schools, people not only need it to provide functionality, but also want it to provide emotional connection.
The researchers pointed out that EVA is only an experimental robot that can only imitate expressions. Mere imitation is a far cry from using complex expressions and human communication, but EVA will one day be able to use expressions fluently.
The creative machine lab’s research on robot expressions has helped the robot anthropomorphism process well. At present, EVA robots that have learned to read expressions and make simple responses to other people’s expressions are expected to be used in a wider range of life scenarios to meet the emotional needs of human beings.
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