In most of the movies with robots as main characters, they are able to understand the human mind to best interact with mankind and, maybe, to feel emotions like us. Some international companies are working to make this kind of scene come true. RoboThespian, from Engineered Arts, was born for this purpose.
RoboThespian is the most known robot of the company. It has great communication skills, feature that allows it to be used in museums and science centers. It was born as a “robotic actor”, but now its main task is to talk with people, in an entertaining way. It is fascinating because of the multitude of expressions that he can do, which can be different from one situation to another. RoboThespian has two little screens as eyes, so it can improve its eye contact with its interlocutor and follow the people in front of it. It is not able to do complex movements and mostly it can’t walk. It has a static position which allows it to be powered by a power source and to receive instructions from a tablet, used by an employee. RoboThespian costs £ 55,000 (about € 78,000) and everyone can buy it to amuse people, because this incredible robot talks and moves like a person does.
If you prefer to talk whit a more human face, SociBot, from Engineered Arts too, can maybe be better. It is not a true humanoid robot, but it’s a robotic head. It hasn’t the body, but only arms and head (it hasn’t arms in its mini version). It has a screen as its face, so it can have different aspects. We can change its characteristics too: we can modify its eyes colour, its skin colour, its mouth’s shape and much more. As RoboThespian do, SociBot is able to follow us with its eyes and, following Engineered Arts statements, it can track the position of more than 12 people at a time. It talks showing emotions, he can understand our expressions and redo them. For SociBot the price is £ 14,500 (€ 20,500), with touch screen included. It is designed for shopping centres, airports, stations and all the science centers.
The next step?
It’s to combine the extraordinary abilities of RoboThespian and SociBot with a robot which could walk and do more movements. This robot already has its own name: Byrun.
“The ability to move like a human adds to our ability to communicate with humans” Engineered Arts says. With human expressions and movements, the result would be a perfect humanoid robot, like fictitious robots in lots of movies are. Nowadays, Byrun is able to do a lot of simple and difficult exercises, but the final goal, the robot that we dream, is still far away.