Professor Hirotaka Nakayama and his students at Kobe’s Konan University Faculty of Intelligence and Informatics have created a guide robot called ii-1 that can communicate using natural language and which queries an internet database to answer questions. The project began in 2008 when four of the newly formed research departments with backgrounds in image processing, artificial intelligence, and natural language processing began working together to create a robot that could illustrate what the school’s research is about during prospective students’ “open campus” days.
Videos and more after the break.
When asked a question, ii-1 connects to a campus website where it queries the database using keywords to find relevant material which it then uses to respond with open source speech synthesis software Julius. The system can answer simple “yes” and “no” questions but is special in that it can also handle “who” and “why” questions by analyzing the relationship between words. It can also move around on mobile platform Pioneer 3DX based when given directions and avoids obstacles with its built-in Hokuyo laser range finder.
The robot’s 100cm (3″3″) tall body features a curvaceous design fabricated in an ABS epoxy. The robot communicates with its built-in speakers and two OLED displays (which can show textual information or graphics representing the robot’s eyes). In the future, they plan to implement facial expression recognition to further enhance the robot’s interactive functionality. They hope the robot will give a boost to the school’s PR department, much like Murata Manufacturing’s bicycling robot, Murata Boy.
[source: Robonable (JP)]