Robotics

Nadine the eerie social robot looks and feels like humans do

Nadine the eerie social robot ...
NTU says that some private companies have shown interest in its newly unveiled robots
NTU says that some private companies have shown interest in its newly unveiled robots
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Nadine can be happy or sad depending on the situation and is said to have a good memory
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Nadine can be happy or sad depending on the situation and is said to have a good memory
NTU says that some private companies have shown interest in its newly unveiled robots
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NTU says that some private companies have shown interest in its newly unveiled robots
The NTU team also showed off a new telepresence robot named Edgar
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The NTU team also showed off a new telepresence robot named Edgar

Machines that can read and respond to human emotions like the fast-selling Pepper, and spooky lifelike models that look much like we do have bridged the gap between robots and humans, for better or for worse. By combining these two approaches scientists at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have taken another step in this direction, taking the wraps off a creepy new humanoid named Nadine who has her own personality and is designed to play the role of social companion or personal assistant.

Some roboticists are treading cautiously in developing machines that approach human-like form. This is motivated by the idea that the more robots look and act as humans do, the more likely they are to creep us out. This sentiment is known as "uncanny valley," and has moved some researchers in the field to reconsider how we'll interact with robots in the future.

But scientists at Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) apparently don't hold such reservations. Nadine is a product of NTU's School of Computer Engineering and was designed as a lookalike of her creator, Professor Nadia Thalmann. Her hair appears a little stiffer and her eyes a little colder, but just like her inventor Nadine will smile when greeting you, remember your name the next time you cross paths and recall your previous conversations.

With her own moods and emotions, Nadine can be happy or sad depending on the situation and is said to have a good memory. The scientists behind Nadine liken her intelligent software to Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortana. Though she is currently playing the role of a receptionist at NTU, they hope that further advances in silicon chips, sensors and computation will see social robots like Nadine one day be used commonly as a robotic assistant in homes and offices and provide companionship for the young and elderly.

"This is somewhat like a real companion that is always with you and conscious of what is happening. So in future, these socially intelligent robots could be like C-3PO, the iconic golden droid from Star Wars, with knowledge of language and etiquette."

Alongside Nadine, the NTU team also showed off a new telepresence robot named Edgar. Where Nadine is designed to play a supportive role alongside its owner, Edgar is aimed at breaking down geographical barriers by allowing the user to control it remotely from anywhere in the world.

The NTU team also showed off a new telepresence robot named Edgar
The NTU team also showed off a new telepresence robot named Edgar

Edgar reenacts the gestures of the human user once they've recorded their movements through a specialized webcam. This includes upper body movements and extends to their facial expressions, which are displayed on Edgar's face in real time. He also features a webcam of his own, through which he can meet people and even hold conversations.

"In future, a renowned educator giving lectures or classes to large groups of people in different locations at the same time could become commonplace," says Associate Professor Gerald Sheet from NTU's School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. "Or you could attend classes or business meetings all over the world using robot proxies, saving time and travel costs."

NTU says that some private companies have shown interest in its newly unveiled robots, and the scientists' next move is to look at building partnerships to bring its technologies to market.

This recent video below shows Nadine in action.

Source: NTU

Real-time Interaction with Nadine at Swissnex Singapore End of 2013 Party

13 comments
TeenLaQueefa
Well, that creeps me right out. I'll wait for version 2.0.
Daishi
I can't think of any legitimate use for this thing besides maybe threatening my kids to let it read them a bedtime story if they don't go to sleep. Maybe we should program it to have the voice of Tom Waits and have it interrogate people who are potentially terrorists. The military could mount them to the front of tanks like something out of mad max to intimidate foes. The next hollywood robots gone haywire movie needs to look to something like this. It could be the Pet Cemetery or Nightmare on Elm Street of our time to watch this thing sing Adele to a person while it beats them to death or removes their organs for donation and places them carefully on ice. The plot for the movie could be instead of just laws for robots the robots enforce similar laws of people and when a person is in violation they casually shut them down and part them out to better behaving humans with nothing but similar good intentions to humans who shut down misbehaving robots.
Tacky-on
The video isn't interaction with a robot. It's just an ugly stereo. Video needs to be re-titled.
sagebrush6
But, is she any fun ----- at a party ?
VoiceofReason
Daishi....it's already been done years ago. Watch "Westworld" the movie from the 1970's.
Scott in California
I believe that in five years, this will be trotted out as an example of "nice try" and poor simulation. Obviously, work needs to be done on the eyeballs and their focus. The eyelids and muscles all around the eyes are not active, which gives it a dead look. Think about this: I can make eye contact with the driver in another car twenty meters away, but I cannot make eye contact with this robot, even when twenty centimeters away.
Nik
I'm wondering when the sex-doll industry will join with the robotics industry, and produces sex dolls that are fully interactive, for ALL household duties. Just imagine, a robot that does all the household jobs, while the owner is at work, cooks the evening meal ready for the owners return, makes a late night hot chocolate, and then keeps its owner warm in bed. It will never get tired, or have a 'headache' and wont nag, or have a mother in-law. That has got to be a winner!
habakak
Fail. And terribly so. A lot of progress on this front, but a humanoid robot that looks like a human, acts and talks like a human and moves like a human is still a long way off. Powering these things will be an issue for a while to come. I can see a use for things like this (once they got it to be close to human-like) in a lot of retail and office settings, but I don't know if the cost will be justified and if it will really be a huge benefit. It's a good way to push the technology and as always, new markets will develop for new products that we can't see or imagine now.
Robert in Vancouver
That robot has a cold and manufactured personality that reminds me of Hilary Clinton.
grtbluyonder
This type of robot is just boring and useless. Why bother with these things that can't really do anything outside their programs boundaries. Great idea, hire a human.