'Care' robots on campus for Open Day

'Care' robots on campus for Open Day

26 Aug 2009

VIDEO CLIP: Controversial communication robots on first visit to Australia.

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Awe-inspiring – and perhaps a trifle unsettling – the forerunners of the next generation of baby sitters and aged care attendants have arrived in Australia.

A little taller than your average vacuum cleaner, 'Jackson' and 'Matilda' are critical players in global research into advanced intelligent communications robots for the health care industry.

To help them interact with their charges and patients, they are 'evolving' their 'emotional' faculties in a new joint research venture between Melbourne's La Trobe University and Japan's Kyoto University, in collaboration with their 'maker' – the global electronics giant, NEC Corporation.

PaPeRos – Partner Personal Robots – are the cream of the current crop of communication robots.

They are visiting La Trobe University's new Research Centre for Computers, Communication and Social Innovation (RECCSI) for the next two years.

'This is the first time these robots have been in Australia,' says the Centre's Director, Associate Professor Rajiv Khosla. 'It's an extremely rare chance to see these icons of next generation robotics in action.'

On Open Day, Sunday 30 August, they will be starring exhibits on the University's main Melbourne Campus at Bundoora.

The robots can tell jokes, converse, move around, their faces lighting up when they recognise people, connect to the internet and transmit images to third parties.

Dr Khosla concedes the concept of intelligent robots programmed to respond to emotional issues is 'something most people still have trouble getting their heads around'.

Already capable of reading basic emotions via face-recognition software, which then informs their actions, he says the work of his collaborative Centre aims to take emotionally intelligent computer systems across their next frontier.

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Dr Rajiv Khosla
Tel: (03) 9479 3064
Mob: 0421 258 052
Email: r.khosla@latrobe.edu.au

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