Researchers at National Taiwan University have developed a tour guide robot named Hsiao Mei that uses GPS and a laser range finder to navigate its surroundings. In the first public demonstration of the robot on August 20th 2009, a student first guided the robot with a controller so it could map the environment before setting it loose on its own. An LCD screen on its back displayed the maps it had created as well as other information.
Using stereo cameras for vision, the robot is able to locate faces and tilt its head to make eye contact when speaking to its human charges. Simple facial features such as eyebrows and lips provide the expressiveness required for human-robot interaction, such as anger, surprise, happiness, and sadness. Hsiao Mei stands approximately 91cm (3′) tall and can operate for 1 to 2 hours before its lithium-ion batteries need to be recharged. The total cost of development was only $9100 USD (NT$300,000). Video of the robot’s demonstration after the break.
[source: Network World]