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ROBISUKE is the 2nd conversational robot developed at Waseda University’s Kobayashi Lab after ROBITA.  Whereas most research in this area has focused on the content of the speech itself, the focus here is on conversational rhythm.  The goal is to eliminate some of the unnatural traits normally associated with robots, such as talking at inappropriate times or listening silently without moving a muscle (“is this thing on?”).  The researchers argue that focusing on the content of the speech without worrying about the nuances of natural communication isn’t enough.

Building on their previous work, ROBISUKE has gaze direction recognition, head gesture recognition (nodding, shaking, bobbing), and facial expression recognition.  Successful integration of these components leads to a better conversational rhythm.  For example, even in those situations where the robot does not understand what a person has said, it should still be able to determine whether the person responded positively or negatively based on their intonation, expression, and head movements.  It can even learn new words and infer their meaning from the rest of the conversation.

ROBISUKE is 100cm (3’3″) tall, weighs 40kg (88 lbs), and has a total of 23 degrees of freedom moving on a wheeled base.  It has been exhibited at Robodex 2003, the Aichi Expo (2005), and various other shows.  In late 2009 the Kobayashi Lab unveiled its latest conversational robot SCHEMA at SIGGRAPH Asia 2009.



Image credit:
Waseda University Kobayashi Lab