A robot in the form of a baby without a face. What is it for?

There are a huge number of robots in the world and each of them has its own purpose. For example, humanoid robots from Boston Dynamics can be used in construction and for loading heavy loads into cars and ships. But among all of them there are devices that help older people with daily tasks and do not let them feel lonely. Recently, the Japanese company Vstone has created a robot called Hiro-chan, which partly solves this problem. It is made in the form of a baby capable of expressing emotions. The creators believe that while taking care of him, people from nursing homes will feel that someone needs them. But why does the robot have no face and is able to reproduce only sounds?

The unusual robot and the idea of its developers were described in the IEEE Spectrum edition. Externally, the novelty looks like a soft toy in the form of a baby, which is able to reproduce more than a hundred different sounds made by real children. When the robot is left alone, he begins to cry and seems to demand to be picked up and calmed down. If you pick him up and hug him, he slowly calms down and starts laughing. The developers believe that if older people take care of at least this device, they will have the opportunity to experience positive emotions and feel that they are not alone.

Vstone employees decided to create a robot without a face due to the fact that at the moment no one was able to create a mechanism capable of realistically depicting emotions using facial expressions. No matter how hard engineers try, when looking at "emotional" robots, a person has a fear of an ominous valley. We have already written about this phenomenon many times. For example, in 2018 we surveyed the humanoid robot Sofia, who looks very much like a real person, but because of the sharp and unnatural movements of her face, she terrifies people.

In order not to frighten people, engineers decided to create a robot that expresses its emotions exclusively with the help of sounds. Using hundreds of different recordings of babies' screams and laughter, they have ensured that the robot changes its mood as smoothly as possible and does not cause hostility. When a person takes a robotic baby in his arms, he understands this with the help of accelerometers, which report a change in the position of his body relative to the surrounding space. If you hug him and thereby express love, the robot begins to experience joy.

It is worth agreeing that the idea of Vstone seems very strange. At the moment, we cannot say for sure whether the robot will really be able to save elderly people from loneliness. But perhaps the researchers know something that we don't understand — it's not for nothing that they decided to work on such a strange project?

It will not be difficult to test the Hiro-chan robot in practice. Due to the lack of a complex mechanism for expressing emotions through facial expressions, the creators were able to achieve the lowest possible cost of the novelty. It is reported that it costs no more than 5.5 thousand yen, which in terms of our money is about 3 thousand rubles. Many nursing homes will be able to afford such a robot, but the demand will surely arise only from Japanese institutions. For residents of the United States and even more so in Russia, robotic technology still seems to be something suspicious, but in Japan they have become something quite familiar. By the way, you can read about the Japanese love for robots in our special material.

Share with friends:

Write and read comments can only authorized users