A group of researchers from the Cornell University has built a jolly little robot that can express emotions. When touched, scared or excited, this little robot send its little spikes out and even gets goosebumps mimicking the skin of octopi which can turn spiky when threatened.
To test touch as an I/O system for different robotic projects, the researchers have built a prototype of the robot which has a smiling face and has got rubber skin. Built by Yuhan Hu, Zhengnan Zhao, Abheek Vimal and Guy Hoffman, this robot is a specimen copy to experiment with new techniques for interaction with robots. Also, the researchers are comparing the rubber skin of the robot to human goosebumps, cats’ neck fur-raising, and dogs’ back hair.
Powered by an elastomer that is computer-controlled and can inflate and deflate on demand, the rubber skin has multiple configurations. To match the expression on the robot’s face, the goosebumps pop up and allows humans to understand what the robot is trying to express when it gets bumpy.
“Research in human-robot interaction shows the ability of a robot to use nonverbal behavior to communicate affects their potential to be useful to people, and can also have psychological effects,” the Cornell researchers told IEEE Spectrum. “Other reasons include that having a robot that uses nonverbal behaviors can help make it be perceived as more familiar and less machine-like.”