Meet the University of Lincoln robot with a face

Scientists at the University of Lincoln are testing out two different robots to see how people react to them.

One is capable of making five different facial expressions. The other makes gestures with its head and arm.

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Are we more comfortable with robots with faces?

Two robots that can alter their facial expressions and make some basic gestures are being tested out by researchers at the University of Lincoln.

They are trying to work out if people feel more comfortable interacting with a robot if it looks as though it has a basic grasp of human emotions.

In the future the team hopes the study could lead to a new generation of robots that are capable of building relationships with people as James Webster reports.


Research could allow humans to develop robot relationships

Scientists at the University of Lincoln who are testing two new robots hope the project leads to a new generation of androids that humans feel more comfortable interacting with. They are looking at how new robots can be designed to show emotion to allow people to trust and understand them better.

The project team say such new robots could act as companions, perhaps working with the elderly, or with children with conditions such as autism, Asperger syndrome or attachment disorder. Existing robots lack identifiable human characteristics that prevent humans developing a bond with them.

Based on human interactions and relationships, we will introduce 'characteristics' and 'personalities' to the robot. If we can explain how human-to-human long-term relationships begin and develop, then it would be easier to plan the human-robot relationship. A companion robot needs to be friendly and have the ability to recognise users' emotions and needs and to act accordingly ... the robot needs to form a 'long-term' relationship with its users, which is possible by continuous interactions and the robot having its own personality and characteristics.

– PhD student Mriganka Biswas

Scientists will compare the effects of giving robots facial expressions and gestures with how people react to a robot which has no 'emotional' expression.

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