As part of the 2009 Human-Robot Interaction Conference, researchers from the University of Calgary have released a paper describing their efforts to make a household machine – in this case, a Roomba vacuum robot, aware of it’s owner’s emotions. Using a special headband that reads bioelectrical signals, they were able to control the Roomba based on the unique physical indicators of human emotions. The researchers are hoping to design robots that are more responsive to human needs. So, if a human seemed upset, the robot could sense it, and comfort them. Or, on the flipside, when people get angry, these highly sensitive class of machines could know to get out of the room and leave them alone.

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