Bots That Can “Feel” – AI with Emotional Intelligence

If you were asked to describe a robot using adjectives, what would you say? Stoic, emotionless, dispassionate? If you agree with any of the following, then you’re not to blame. Since our childhoods, we’ve seen movies like Terminator, and I Robot, and shows like Small Wonders where robots are shown incapable of feeling emotions. This is the very notion that scientists today want to dissolve.

By using Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning, scientists have been successful in developing many prototypes of the ‘Emotional Robot’ – the bot that can not only tell you how it feels, but also gauge your emotions. Let’s have a look at some of the most famous ‘Emotional Robots’ to have come out in the past few years, and the stories behind them.

Pepper – The First Emotional Robot

The level of innovation and engineering abroad in Japan is second to none. No points for guessing then, who’s the hand behind Pepper. Japanese giant SoftBank developed this human-shaped robot as a day-to-day assistant and companion for businesses.

The biggest differentiating factor between Pepper and other robots is that Pepper can sense human feelings and adapt its behaviour accordingly. It’s said that over 140 SoftBank outlets in Japan have employed Pepper as a means to interact with and entertain SoftBank’s customers.

Source: https://www.softbankrobotics.com/emea/sites/aldebaran/files/images/pepper-b2b-2.png

Pepper’s AI & machine learning capability enables it to recognize your face, and study the tone of your voice, facial expressions, and your mood. It keeps memorizing your preferences, tastes, and habits, and adapts itself and displays content that is tailored to you. It can even modulate its tone of voice to suit your mood and emotions.

One of the most intriguing features of Pepper is the way it communicates its emotions. If it feels sad, you will hear a ‘sigh’, and at other times, you will see how happy it is through its movements. Scientists say that Pepper is equipped with a neural network that mimics the endocrine type multi-layered network that humans possess. Priced at $1,600, this humanoid robot can express emotions like joy, anger, surprise, sadness, and even apprehension!

The Emotional Robot by Cornell University

Researchers and B Tech Engineering interns at Cornell University in the United States have developed a Robot that they are terming as the ‘emotional robot’. Its USP is that just like humans, the exterior (or skin) of this robot can get goosebumps when it is excited or happy, and become spiked in case it’s angry.

Source: https://content.assets.pressassociation.io/2018/07/19154834/0a200f46-3359-4ede-925f-c705b7c3366f-640×360.jpg

Unlike Pepper, which conveys emotions using facial expressions, this robot expresses in different terms by displaying changes in the skin texture. Imagine if both these technologies are combined to create a Robot that can display a gamut of emotions both by means of speech and facial expressions, as well as exterior surface changes!

If you are interested in robotics, then you should strongly consider doing Engineering abroad because the levels of innovation and research opportunities are abundant. Institutions in India such as Manipal’s International Center for Applied Sciences can help you pursue this dream. Their International Transfer Program allows you to gain knowledge both in India and abroad.

There have been a lot of safety concerns regarding Robots, and Elon Musk has openly challenged developers who support the idea that robots are safe and will not harm humans. However, rather than emulating humans, Robots can be designed as another species that are here to help us become more productive, whilst being responsive to human emotions and feelings at the same time.


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