Rise of the giggling robots: toddlers accept robot as a peer

Edward Willett @ 06-11-2007

gigglingrobot Researchers at the University of California San Diego have discovered that it doesn’t take much to get toddlers to accept a robot as just another kid. (Via New Scientist.)

They put a 60 cm-tall robot called QRIO (pronounced “curio”) into a classroom with a dozen toddlers (video here) and programmed it to giggle when its head was touched, to occasionally sit down, and to lie down when its batteries dies. A human operator could also make it look at a child, or wave as one went away. Over several weeks, the toddlers began interacting with QRIO pretty much the same way they did with other toddlers. They’d even help it up when it fell, and when its batteries died and it lay down,  they’d cover it with a blanket and say “night, night.” (Awwww….)

There’s been a lot of recent research on trying to make the robot-human interaction better. Researchers have also taught a robot to dance to a beat, or to a partner’s movement, and are working on giving robots a sense of humor. Add in the martial-arts robots of a few years ago and that robot that conducted a Beethoven symphony, and you’ve got to think a true pass-for-human android a la Blade Runner may not be all that far away.

Whether you think that’s a good idea may depend on how much you took Terminator to heart.

(By the way, this is also the topic of my newspaper science column this week.) (Photo: J. Movellan et al., UCSD.)

[tags]robots, androids, artificial intelligence[/tags]

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One Response to “Rise of the giggling robots: toddlers accept robot as a peer”

  1. Tomas Martin says:

    That is very cute. I want one. Or a Weighted Companion Cube. I can’t decide.

    It just goes to show how in childhood we can accept anything. It’s only as we get older we get hardened and set in our ways. blimmin kids.