Cornell researchers have made a small robot that can express his emotions by touch, sending small peaks when he is afraid or giving himself goosebumps to express his joy or excitement. The prototype, a pretty smiling creature with a rubber skin, is designed to test touch as an I / O system for robotic projects.
The robot mimics the skin of an octopus that can become pungent when it is threatened.
The researchers, Yuhan Hu, Zhengnan Zhao, Abheek Vimal, and Guy Hoffman, created the robot to experiment with new methods of interacting with robots. They compare the skin to "human goose bumps, disbudding of cats, dog's back hairs, porcupine needles, spit of a puffer fish or the ruffled feathers of a bird. "
"Research on human-robot interaction shows that the ability of a robot to use non-verbal behavior to communicate affects its potential to be useful to people, and can also have psychological effects. Other reasons include that having a robot uses non-verbal behaviors can help make it perceived to be more familiar and less mechanical, the researchers told IEEE Spectrum.
The skin has multiple configurations and is powered by a computer-controlled elastomer that can inflate and deflate on demand. Goosebumps appear to match the expression on the robot's face, allowing humans to better understand what the robot "means" when it raises its little hackles or becomes bumpy. For my part, I welcome our bumpy robotic overlords.