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New human-like social robot ‘Nadine’ developed

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015,13:16 IST By Metrovaartha A A A

Singapore | Scientists have developed a human-like social robot with soft skin and flowing brunette hair, which is capable of autonomously expressing emotions and gestures like shaking hands and conversing.

Nadine is a friendly robot which smiles while greeting you, looks at you in the eye when talking, and will remember your name and your previous conversation the next time you meet her, researchers said.

Scientists from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have developed two social robots – Nadine and a tele-presence robot EDGAR that can be controlled remotely, allowing you to interact at a conference without physically being there.

Nadine looks almost like a human being, with soft skin and flowing brunette hair. Unlike conventional robots, Nadine has her own personality, mood and emotions.

She can be happy or sad, depending on the conversation. She also has a good memory, and can recognise the people she has met, and remembers what the person had said before.

Nadine is powered by intelligent software similar to Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. The humanoid can be a personal assistant in offices and homes in future. She can be used as a social companion for the young and the elderly, the researchers said.

Robotics technologies have advanced significantly over the past few decades and are already being used in manufacturing and logistics, said Nadia Thalmann, the director of the Institute for Media Innovation at NTU who led the development of Nadine.

As countries worldwide face challenges of an ageing population, social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for health-care services in future, said Thalmann.

Nadine’s robot-in-arms, EDGAR, is a tele-presence robot optimised to project the gestures of its human user, complete with a rear-projection screen for its face and two highly articulated arms. By standing in front of a specialised webcam, a user can control EDGAR remotely from anywhere in the world.

The user’s face and expressions will be displayed on the robot’s face in real time, while the robot mimics the person’s upper body movements. EDGAR can also deliver speeches by autonomously acting out a script.

With an integrated webcam, he automatically tracks the people he meets to engage them in conversation, giving them informative and witty replies to their questions.

Telepresence provides an additional dimension to mobility. The user may project his or her physical presence at one or more locations simultaneously, meaning that geography is no longer an obstacle, said Gerald Seet from NTU.

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