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UM researchers are studying child-mother interactions to design robots with social skills
Date:10/28/2010

with the ability to learn more complicated interactions. The robot's name is Diego-San. He is 1.3 meters tall and modeled after a 1-year-old child. The construction of the robot was a joint venture between Kokoro Dreams and the Machine Perception Laboratory at UC San Diego.

The robot will need to shift its gaze from people to objects based on the same principles babies seem to use as they play and develop. "One important finding here is that infants are most likely to shift their gaze, if they are the last ones to do so during the interaction," says Messinger. "What matters most is how long a baby looks at something, not what they are looking at."

The process comes full circle. The babies teach the researchers how to program the robot, and in training the robot the researchers get insight into the process of human behavior development, explains Paul Ruvolo, six year graduate student in the Computer Science Department at UC San Diego and co-author of the study.

"A unique aspect of this project is that we have state-of-the-art tools to study development on both the robotics and developmental psychology side," says Ruvolo. "On the robotics side we have a robot that mechanically closely approximates the complexity of the human motor system and on the developmental psychology side we have a fine-grained motion capture and video recording that shows the mother infant action in great detail," he says. "It is the interplay of these two methods for studying the process of development that has us so excited."

Ultimately, the baby robot will give scientists understanding on what motivates a baby to communicate and will help answer questions about the development of human learning. This study is funded by National Science Foundation.


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Contact: Marie Guma-Diaz
m.gumadiaz@umiami.edu
305-284-1601
University of Miami
Source:Eurekalert

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