Emotionally intelligent robot to make an appearance at science festival

9:00am Sunday 25th October 2009

A WALKING and talking robot created by researchers at the University of Hertfordshire is to make an appearance at a robots exhibition.

KASPAR, a child-sized robot designed specifically for human-robot interaction, has been taught to name objects by using similar mechanisms that human infants use to understand object names.

Dr Joe Saunders and Dr Kheng Lee Koay, part of the University’s School of Computer Science, have created KASPAR to show the team’s world leading research into developing robots as social companions.

KASPAR will take part in the exhibition at the Manchester Science Festival on October 26 and 27.

Dr Saunders said: “We will invite children to teach KASPAR the names of shapes on a cube and watch how he begins to recognise and say the shape names and then associate them with physical movements.”

This research is part of the ITALK project, led by Professor Chrystopher Nehaniv, which aims to teach a robot to acquire language by using the same type of social interactions used by parents when talking to young children.

At the event, while Dr Saunders demonstrates KASPAR’s speech capabilites, Dr Koay will run a game showing how a robot maintains its identity while migrating between different physical robot bodies, by performing tasks learned in its previous body.

Based on Living with Robots and Interactive Companions, this form of research, led by Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn, aims to create a new generation of interactive, emotionally intelligent, companion technology that is capable of long-term engagement with humans.

He said: “This shows that we can have robotic companions assisting us in different ways.

“For example, a robotic companion which in one mechanical body could help an elderly person to get up off the sofa could also migrate into their mobile phone and remind them later to take their tablets.”

For further information about Manchester Science Festival, visit www.manchestersciencefestival.com/

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