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Thursday, February 05, 2004

Japan Today Japan News - Japan's Leading International News Network
Sony to stop selling AIBO robots at retailers

Thursday, February 5, 2004 at 05:08 JST

Robots get friendly | | Robots get friendly
Robots are acting more like people. Will our attachments eventually become too strong?
By Gregory M. Lamb | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Experts say smarter, more human-like robots are on their way, including Hertz, a social robot created by David Hanson, a self-described 'sculptor roboticist.

Later this month Valerie will go on duty behind the reception desk at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Sciences. Besides doling out information and directions, she'll chat about her ever-changing personal life. If you introduce yourself, she'll remember you. If you ask about the weather, when she meets you again she may bring up the subject.
Valerie, in case you haven't guessed, is a robot - one in a long line of increasingly sophisticated machines. Of course, computers and their physical manifestations, robots, are already deeply embedded in our lives. In some sense, ATM machines, self-service gas pumps, and TiVo video recorders serve as rudimentary robots.
[...] - Personal robots: Looking technology in the eye

(CSM) - In a decade or so, people may not have to tidy their house, clean up after the dog, or even nag their spouse to do chores. A friendly, human-like robot will take care of routine tasks, and it won't whine or fight back.
If technologists' predictions bear out, this second coming of robots could be more pervasive than the first in the '60s, when industrial robots revolutionized manufacturing.
Designed to mimic the look and gestures of humans, the new breed of personal robots eventually may have artificial skin and muscles, as well as eye and facial expressions, and they might speak more naturally.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Feature Article: Yoshihiro Kuroki: Dancing with Robots

THE DANCERS STAND MOTIONLESS at their positions and the room grows quiet. But as the music starts, they begin to move, bending, turning, and waving their fans gracefully as they perform a traditional Japanese dance. Yoshihiro Kuroki watches in silence, occasionally making notes. But as the dance ends, he beams with happiness. The performance has been flawless.
There have been many performances of traditional Japanese dances over the centuries, but this one is unique, because it is performed not by human dancers but by robots. And the performance takes place not in a dance studio but in a laboratory of Sony Corp.'s Entertainment Robot Co. in Shinagawa, Japan, where Kuroki is general manager. He is the mastermind behind a series of ever more capable humanoid entertainment robots, starting with the Sony Dream Robot, or SDR, in 1997, up to the current QRIO (pronounced 'curio') in 2003.
These delightful machines are only 58 cm tall, about the size of a newborn infant, weigh about 7 kg, and move with 38 degrees of freedom, each with its own servomotor.
QRIO's predecessor, the SDR4X, announced in 2002, can walk, dance, sing, speak, recognize faces, and understand continuous speech. Each robot has two charge-coupled-device cameras to detect color and position and can locate a colored ball, move toward it, and kick it into a goal. It also has contact sensors in several joints to avoid pinching real human fingers. Seeing the robot perform, it is difficult to remember that there is no sentience behind those glass eyes.
Kuroki knew he wanted to work with robots ever since his second year of high school. His school was affiliated with Waseda University in Tokyo, and one day his class visited the lab of Professor Ichiro Kato.

AP Wire | 02/01/2004 | Giving robots a human face
Posted on Sun, Feb. 01, 2004
Associated Press

DALLAS - With her sparkling blue eyes, wispy eyelashes and demure smile, Hertz is the center of attention wherever she goes.
If you're lucky enough to meet her, try to ignore the tangle of wires slinking from behind her face. If you speak with her, talk slowly and loudly. And no matter what you say, don't be offended if she looks at you blankly and repeatedly asks, 'What did you say?'
Hertz isn't really a she, but rather an it, an animated robot head built in about nine months by self-titled 'sculptor roboticist' David Hanson.
Hanson and other robot makers believe social robots will one day serve a variety of functions: tutor, companion, even security guard.
But should they look human?