From left to right: Eduardo Sandoval and Tim Pomroy with the robot's face, and the 3D printer
In the future, robots may well be a part of our everyday lives, but how will we interact with them? It’s a question that Eduardo Sandoval from the University of Canterbury is trying to answer. In particular, he wants to know about reciprocity, when we respond to an action with a similar action, either a postive action being rewarded, or a negative action having a hostile response.
To study these human-robot interactions, he’s working with Tim Pomroy to make a life-sized humanoid robot using 3D printed parts. Called InMoov, the design for the robot is freely available on the internet, and it can talk, move in complex ways, recognise voices and has several in-built cameras. For example, webcams in the eyes could record the interactions of the people in the study, and the voice chosen could be male, female or even gender neutral to see how people respond.
It’s likely that the robot would be used sitting at a table, as it only consists of a torso. The robot is being printed in red plastic, and is substantially cheaper to build than off-the-shelf commercial robots, which are also not necessarily life-sized. Ruth Beran goes to the Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HITLab) to see how much of the robot has been built so far.