Jump to content

Is Star Trek's "Data" nearing reality??


Recommended Posts

Pictured: The robot that can pull faces just like a human being


By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 12:23 PM on 12th November 2008



Scientists have created the first 'humanoid' robot that can mimic the facial expressions and lip movements of a human being.

'Jules' - a disembodied androgynous robotic head - is controlled only by his own software and automatically copies the movement and expressions of a human face.

Human face movements are picked up by a video camera and mapped onto the tiny electronic motors in Jules' skin.

It can grin and grimace, furrow its brow, and 'speak' as the software translates real expressions observed through video camera 'eyes'.




article-1085059-02716CFA000005DC-732_468x312.jpg 'Jules' the first humanoid robot who can realistically mimic a real person's expressions merely by watching their face

'Jules' then mimics the facial expressions of the human by converting the video image into digital commands that make the robot's servos and motors produce mirrored movements.

And it all happens in real time as Jules can interpret the commands at 25 frames per second.

The project, called 'Human-Robot Interaction', was devised at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL), run by the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol.

A team of robotics engineers - Chris Melhuish, Neill Campbell and Peter Jaeckel - spent three-and-a-half years developing the breakthrough software to create interaction between humans and artificial intelligence.


The robot is seen making a convincing attempt at being human automatically, controlled only by computer software







'Jules', has 34 internal motors covered with flexible rubber ('Frubber') skin, which was commissioned from roboticist David Hanson in the US for the BRL.



It was originally programmed to act out a series of movements - as can be seen in the video - where 'Jules' talks about 'destroying Wales'.

But cutting edge software now enables Jules to translate what it 'sees' through video 'eyes' into equivalent movements on its face.

The technology works using ten stock human emotions - such as happiness, sadness, concern etc - that the team 'taught' Jules via programming.

The software then maps what it sees to Jules' face to combine expressions instantly to mimic those being shown by a human subject.


Peter Jaeckel, working on 'Jules' at his lab in Filton, Bristol

'We have a repertoire of behaviours that somehow is dynamic', Chris Melhuish said.

'If you want people to be able to interact with machines, then you've got to be able to do it naturally. When it moves it has to look natural.

'When it moves it has to look natural in the same way that human expressions are, to make interaction useful.'

Peter Jaeckel, who works in artificial emotion, artificial empathy and humanoids at the BRL, said: 'Realistic, life-like robot appearance is crucial for sophisticated face-to-face robot - human interaction.

Enlarge article-1085059-02717189000005DC-494_233x335.jpg Human face movements are picked up by a video camera and mapped onto the tiny electronic motors in Jules' skin


'Researchers predict that one day robotic companions will work, or assist humans in space, care and education.

'Robot appearance and behaviour need to be well matched to meet expectations formed by our social experience.

'Violation of these expectations due to subtle imperfections or imbalance between appearance and behaviour results in discomfort in humans that perceive or observe the robot.

'If people were put off it would counter-act all efforts to achieve trustworthiness, reliability and emotional intelligence.

'All these are requirements for robotic companions, assisting astronauts in space or care robots employed as social companions for the elderly.

'Unlike most research projects the focus lies on dynamic, subtle, facial expressions, rather than static exaggerated facial displays.

'Copycat robot heads have been created before, but never with realistic human-looking faces.'

But not everyone is impressed by Jules's mastery of mimicry.

Kerstin Dautenhahn, a robotics researcher at the University of Herefordshire, believes that people may be disconcerted by humanoid automatons that simply look 'too human'.

'Research has shown that if you have a robot that has many human-like features, then people might actually react negatively towards it', she said.

'If you expose vulnerable people, like children or elderly people, to something that they might mistake for human, then you would automatically encourage a social relationship.

'They might easily be fooled to think that this robot not only looks like a human and behaves like a human, but that it can also feel like a human. And that's not true.'

It is hoped that the technology developed in Jules will help create robots for use in space, to accompany astronauts on solo missions, and in healthcare settings and nursing homes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...