Diego-san (a not-so-subtle play on the robot’s origin and the honorary Japanese suffix “san”) is a baby robot being developed by the UCSD Machine Perception Lab with the help of Kokoro Co. Ltd., an entertainment company that develops animatronics (see Actroid or HRP-4C’s head). Thanks to Norri Kageki of popular bilingual robotics blog GetRobo, we know the following:
According to the PDF, the robot is supposed to model a 1 year old baby and the purpose is to conduct research on how a baby’s brain develops. Diego-san’s face has about 20 moving parts so that it can communicate with facial expression without being able to talk. It is 130cm (4’3″) tall, weighs 30kg (66 lbs) and can stand up from a chair on its own. It can hold a water bottle with its hand. It has a high resolution camera and 6 axis acceleration sensor built in to detect movement. Unfortunately it doesn’t say why the head has to be so big. Female researchers contributed to the design and coordination – thus the photo of woman hugging Diego-san. Hope this helps!
Diego-San looks like the North American equivalent of Italy’s iCub project. Gigantism and uncanny valley jokes aside, it appears that UCSD’s work into natural communication extends to reading and mimicking facial expressions, which requires the complex animatronics developed by companies like Kokoro and Hanson Robotics. They’ve done work with Hanson’s Albert Einstein head, and I’m guessing Diego-san’s cranium is that large in order to compensate for the internal mechanisms built on the cheap. The goal of making empathetic personal robots is a valid one, and even if you think Diego-san is a bit creepy, at least it’s not as bad as Archie. A few more photos follow after the break.
Kokoro Co. Ltd.