Study: Robots can understand humans

03/08/2011 21:33


ATLANTA, March 8 (UPI) -- A preliminary study found a robot can be programmed to understand when it gets a human's attention and when it doesn't, U.S. researchers said.

The researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology used a socially expressive robot named Simon to see whether they could determine when the robot successfully attracted the attention of a human who was engaged elsewhere and when he didn't, the Atlanta institution said Tuesday in a release.

"The primary focus was trying to give Simon, our robot, the ability to understand when a human being seems to be reacting appropriately, or in some sense is interested now in a response with respect to Simon and to be able to do it using a visual medium, a camera," said Aaron Bobick, professor and chair of the School of Interactive Computing in Georgia Tech's College of Computing.

With nearly 80 percent accuracy, Simon could tell whether someone was paying attention to him or ignoring him, researchers said.

"Simon would make some form of a gesture, or some form of an action when the user was present, and the computer vision task was to try to determine whether or not you had captured the attention of the human being," Bobick said.

To integrate robots in a human world means robots must engage with human beings, "and human beings have an expectation of being engaged in a way similar to the way other human beings would engage with them," Bobick said.

Researchers said they plan to investigate how Simon can read communication cues by studying whether he can tell by a person's gaze or other human cues whether that person is paying attention.

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