|CB2, which stands for Child-robot with Biomimetic Body, is a new android-based
attempt at developing an artificial intelligence with social skills. The robot
is essentially a bald, white baby, and it learns in much the same way - by watching
expressions change on its 'mother's' face, and teaching its own neural net to
cluster them together.
CB2, despite its appearance, tries to mimic all the sensory signs of a baby,
to enable those interacting with it to bond somewhat. CB2's chest rises and
falls with different rhythms as it breathes at different rates, when awake,
asleep, angry or excited. With 197 pressure sensors under its light grey rubbery
skin, CB2 can recognise, and thus respond to human touch, and caressing, or
These haptic sensations are matched directly to what its eyes detect by way
of facial expression and even some body language.
Unfortunately, it's a bit bigger and heavier than a normal baby, so its not
picked up and hugged. At four feet four inches, and weighing 33 kilograms, the
baby android would be absolute murder to carry about. Fortunately, CB2 has taught
itself how to walk, using 51 pneumatic muscles distributed throughout its body.
It is probably of no surprise that the android is Japanese, given that country's
drive to create embodied synthetic life. Professor Minoru Asada of Osaka University,
is the parent of this baby, and is supported by the state-funded Japan Science
and Technology Agency.