June 16, 2012

Robot Experiment

Yesterday a group of us exchange students were lucky enough to get the chance to participate in a robot experiment at Kansai University. It was my first time ever seeing a robot, and it was awesome getting an insight into the workings of the science and technology that Japan is so famous for.
First we had to fill out some paperwork, and then we were taken through the process of what the robot would do, and how we should react. We were taken into a room filled with people and cameras, which was quite intimidating. The first experiment involved the little green robot in the picture above (I thought it was really cute!). Images would come up on a screen, and the robot would tell us information about the image, and ask us questions about them. If we thought the robot was asking us the question, we would answer. The robot would then tell us if we were right or wrong. Afterwards we filled out a questionnaire about what we thought about the robot - like whether its gestures were natural and whether we thought it could potentially replace humans as a tour guide in a museum.
Next we were taken to a room that contained this charming 'maid' robot... so creepy. Before the experiment we were told that the robot would be carrying a tray of cookies, and in order to get a cookie, you had to put your hand up, and it would come to you. I didn't like the way she was dressed or the way she glided towards you me big staring eyes... but I liked the fact that she brought me cookies. Again, we filled in a survey about this robot, and used an iPad to do an exercise where we chose what eye shape looks the most friendly, I guess so they can try to make the robot look less creepy. We were talking to one of the researchers in charge of the experiment and she said the more human a robot looks, the scarier it is - which I think is quite true!

Japan technology is so crazy cool. Domo arigato Mr Roboto.

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