When I read this piece of information in the internet there were two feelings that crossed my mind. One was a feeling of awe at what science has achieved and the other was a feeling which is hard to explain in one word. The second feeling left me thinking that how paradoxical it is that first robots were made to imbibe human traits and may be now after this invention we can learn somethings that we once possessed and which distinguished us so distinctly from them. In today’s world how many times have u heard the phrase that “I am becoming a robot” or “You have been behaving like a robot or machine”. I think what these phrases try to emphasize is the fact that with such fast paced life slowly but surely we have lost the emotional touch that were so human at one point of time. And this new invention in the field of robotics actually brings back that quite blatantly to the humans. Yes the new breakthrough that I am talking about is a robot with facial expressions which shows emotions.
A latest invention by MIT Media Lab is a new robot that is able to show various facial expressions such as ‘slanting its eyebrows in anger’, or ‘raise them in surprise’, and show a wide assortment of facial expressions while communicating with people. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
This latest achievement in the field of Robotics is named NEXI as it is framed as the next generation robots. These new gen robots are seemingly built for a range of applications like for personal robots and for human-robot teamwork.
Design of the Face:
The upper parts of the robots i.e. the head and face of NEXI were designed by Xitome Design which is a innovative designing and development company that specializes in robotic design and development. The expressive robotics started with a neck mechanism sporting 4 degrees of freedom (DoF) at the base, plus pan-tilt-yaw of the head itself. The mechanism has been constructed in such a manner that the timing of the movements is able to mimic human speed and thus resemble human expressions to a high degree of accuracy. The face of NEXI has been specially designed to use gaze, eyebrows, eyelids and an articulate mandible which helps in expressing a wide range of different emotions.
Design of the body:
The chassis or the body of NEXI (you know him right, the expressive robot) is also built with advanced capabilities. It has been developed by the Laboratory for Perceptual Robotics UMASS (University of Massachusetts), Amherst. This chassis is based on the uBot5 mobile manipulator. Now what is that you might be thinking. The uBot-5 is a small and lightweight research platform for mobile manipulation. It was designed to be an economical robot that is highly capable, durable, and safe to operate. For further details you can click here.
The mobile base can balance dynamically on two wheels. The arms of NEXI can pick up a weight of up to 10 pounds. Another very interesting thing is that the plastic covering of the chassis can detect any kind of human touch. Wow that is cool!!
So now since you are already a bit familiar with NEXI, its time to make you more familiar with him. Here are some of the other qualities or features of NEXI apart from the wide range of facial expressions:
1) It has self-balancing wheels like the wikipedia.org/wiki/Segway_PT”>Segway transporter, to ultimately ride on. See adjacent image for Segway transporter
2) it has hands which can be used to manipulate objects and as I said earlier can lift weight upto 10 pounds,
3) eyes which are video cameras,
4) ears which basically is an array of microphones, and
5) a 3-D infrared camera and laser rangefinder which support real-time tracking of objects, people and voices as well as indoor navigation.
Undoubtedly it is a very interesting piece of robot. And I also hope apart from its normal applications for which it is built, it might also be able to bring the expression of smile at least in our expressionless human faces.