Yan Meixian U0205044
Making robots look like humans or animals is nothing surprising anymore. Living things especially human beings have such a complex structure that it is a never-ending challenge to reproduce the various aspects of it such as its emotion, its facial expressions, its flexibility in physical motion etc. So it seems to me that most of the time, the robots that makes the news headlines are those which mimic the human beings in the most life-like manner. A very good example is Asimo. I guess a reason why people choose to produce life-like robots is because they would like the robots to be their personal companions. Facing a robot which indicate some form of emotion seem more pleasant than facing a lifeless and hard machine, especially if that robot was meant to be a toy. iRobot Corporation produced a super-realistic interactive life-sized human baby toy, known as My Real Baby (MRB) with the purpose of giving young children a very stimulating play experience. The MRB comes with high-tech animatronics and emotional response software, so each doll has the ability to change its face in numerous different ways allowing it to convey its emotions to the child playing with it. The first generation of the MRB, known as IT, could already shake hands with people, smile if anyone takes his picture, and gets frightened if people get too close to him.
The second generation, BIT, used behavioral language and could also sense if he’s upside down or not and express that he doesn’t like the feeling of being inverted.
The MRB features a range of real and virtual sensors which iRobot did not give any details about. The previous generation used 5 electric motors and had orientation, reed switches, a microphone and a light sensor but the MRB did not seem to have all of these. The doll changes its emotion using the Behaviour Language Operating System (developed by Rodney Brooks of the the MIT AI Lab and Cog fame). The behavior model that of a real baby very well. If it is not fed it, it gets hungry and cries. If it is fed, burped and rocked to sleep, it will stop crying.
Here are other amazing stuff that the MRB can do. It can change its facial expression rather adeptly like moving its lips, cheeks and raising eyebrows. It can also blink and suck its thumb and bottle. The doll has a great collection of different baby noises and words and can randomly combine them. What I find more amazing is that the longer you play with the doll, the more it starts to piece sentences together in a coherent fashion, just like a real baby.
A reviewer of the doll played around with it. The doll could giggle and gurgle and respond well to tickling and being burped on its back. If left untouched, the baby would sleep till it is given a gentle nudge to wake up. The reviewer then tried to be “mean” and make the doll cry, but he did not succeed since the manual stated that the MRB does not respond to aggressive behavior.
It seems quite an ideal toy for young children since it does not encourage violence. But the idea of having a life-like baby may have a bigger scope than just being toys. If we let wild ideas run, maybe one day, the robotic baby may be so realistic that couples who can’t have kids may choose to adopt a robotic baby just to get an idea of what parenthood is about.
Article referred from: