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The Nikola Humanoid Robot which can Express Emotions

Emotional expression has long been one of those things that separates man from machine. But new research using an expressive Android head named Nikola aims to change that.

We talked to one of the researchers working on the project about what they hoped to achieve with Nikola. How emotional robotics might prove useful in the future in a brand new video clip that shows off even more of Nikola's capabilities. “We are trying to create robots or Androids having human minds or at least people feel like that” they said.

nikola android robot

Nikola is part of the Guardian Robot Project; a research and development effort backed by Riken, a Japanese government-funded research institute. According to their website, The Guardian Robot project combines psychology, brain science, cognitive science and AI research, in order to further the goal of creating a Robot that can “autonomously recognize its environment and the state of the person it is supposed to support and provide assistance without compromising that person's autonomy”

The Project researchers further added “Social interaction is quite important for humans and we think that Androids having such abilities would be quite important in research and real-life application”

One potential use for emotionally expressive Androids like Nikola could be in elder care. The six emotions Nikola expressed in the study are Happiness, Sadness, Fear, Anger, Surprise and Disgust.

“I conducted some Psychoscale experiments variegating his facial actions, so he has nice evidence showing more human-like factial actions” said the project lead.

Also Read: Top 5 Most Advanced Futuristic Humanoid Robots of 2022

Nikola's facial expressions are powered by 29 actuators controlled by air pressure. There are several different options to manipulate actuators. Electric, Oil or Air and Miniature sound, to create human-like motions. Air actuators are the best, currently Nikola has a large compressor out of his body. By using the compressor, he can activate air actuators.

In a brand new video clip shared with Techronicle, the robot looks back and forth between two people using cameras in its eyes. So he can analyze the video data using his eyes and in the demo he detected humans talking. So when different people talked, he changed his eye directions and probably he sometimes showed a smile depending on human talking.

Dr Sato tells us that the additional cameras placed near where the robot's chest would be, if it had one are gathering depth sensing data that might eventually be useful in helping Nikola move around.

nikola android humanoid robot face expressions

Of course Nikola still has a long way to go before we'll see it giving interviews like some other expressive robots we've covered; Amica and Sophia to name a few. Dr Sato tells that for now they're working on improving and expanding Nikola's facial expressions giving Nikola a voice and a body and instilling all of these with emotional expressiveness that can eventually work together for maximum human-like emotional impact.

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Usually humans combine different modalities like facial expressions and vocal procedures to communicate their emotions. So if he show emotions in his face and also in his voice, then such emotional communications would be more human like we expect.

Of course as a long time sci-fi fan, I couldn't let the interview end without asking Dr Sato about the possible downside of humans making Robots in our own image. He said “We have a plan to collaborate with ethical researchers  about this issue, what could be negative size of creating human like Androids or Robots. So that was all in this short yet informative post, we will update this post once we get more insights on Nikola, until then stay connected.

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