July 18 - Italian scientists have created a robot face that can mimic real muscle activity, blurring the boundaries between humans and androids. The FACEteam robot 'skull' and torso contain 32 motors that help recreate the activity of the 100-plus facial muscles in the human face responsible for expressing emotions. Jim Drury reports.
It could be the most lifelike robot ever invented. Created by Pisa University scientists, the android can mimic six human emotions, using 32 motors in her face. Their creation is called FACE, which stands for Facial Automation for Conveying Emotions. The researchers created algorithms which tell the motors how to replicate expressions associated with specific mental states, from amazement and disgust, to sadness, and fear. Their program is based on 30 years worth of global research into making robots more like humans. The roboticists say FACE brings us closer to what they call the 'uncanny valley' - the point at which an android looks almost realistic enough to pass for a human, but robotic enough to provoke revulsion in human observers. The FACETeam want to find the answer to a fundamental question: can a robot express emotions? They hope to one day devise an android that fits seamlessly in with society, expressing itself just like a human. Jim Drury, Reuters