Albert Einstein: The Android
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, US, have created a basic android modelled after Dr Albert Einstein, in order to develop and test interaction routines designed to allow the android to interact with humans utilising natural facial expressions and speech recognition.
Three researchers are behind the robot:
Designer: Javier Movellan
Javier Movellan, a research scientist in the Calit2-based UCSD Machine Perception Laboratory is behind the interaction software, machine vision and personality design work.
Designer: Professor Yoav Freund
Professor Yoav Freund, of Jacobs School of Engineering computer science worked on much of the hardware, and the robot's ability to respond to audio social cues as well as visual ones.
Designer: David Hanson
David Hanson, formerly of Disney, the robot's primary designer and owner of Hanson Robotics, is the driving force behind its creation, and the use of robots as social tools.
The Einstein robot cost $75,000 us to put together, and is being used to advance the field in several tangible ways, not just overcome the uncanny valley perception.
Einstein's skin is a new material called Frubber, which Hanson's company has created after researching extensively into facial anatomy, physiology, materials science and soft-bodied mechanical engineering. It is even covered with microscopic pores, to push into the territory of being as real as possible.
Hanson is also bringing his expertise from Disney to bear, in careful design as to how to move with 'Disney magic', or in other words as realistically as possible.
Movellan's facial recognition software is pushing the boundaries, using a database of just over one million faces, and visual search algorithms coupled with a neural network to learn and understand new faces, facial expressions and speech patterns. Einstein is designed to learn, and adapt swiftly to a new person's face and gestures.
Movellan's work on Einstein also includes a character engine: A development suite designed to allow developers to craft and shape robot personalities from a standard toolset, adjusting parameters to create the desired personality.