|With its distinctive Cyclops head and gleaming white body, the MYON robot used by Humboldt University's Neurorobotics Research Laboratory is used to learn about language development by allowing embodied intelligence to create its own language.|
MYON is a humanoid robot built for Humboldt University, Germany in 2010 with single camera vision. It is the main robot being used in the multinational ALEAR (Artificial Language Evolution on Autonomous Robots) project, which explores how “complex grammatical systems and behaviors can emerge in populations of robotic agents.”
The ALEAR study uses five identical MYON robots. Through intensive collaboration with industrial designers Frackenpohl Poulheim and Bayer MaterialScience, MYON was equipped with an exterior Makrolon skin which allows for more comfortable human-machine interaction, as well as making the robot more durable.
Through carefully controlled experiments, in which the complete chain from embodiment to language is modeled, the project partners explore how complex grammatical systems and behaviors can emerge in populations of robotic agents.. They do it in much the same way our ancient ancestors must have, by naming the actions they perform as well as the things around them.
In the Horizon episode, Dr. Luc Steels shows how one of the robots is attempting to communicate its chosen word for a specific gesture. The “words” they invent begin as random sounds given to a specific action, object, or event.
Coupling the word to an object or action must then be successfully conveyed to a partner, which involves the observer guessing what the teacher meant. Whenever the observer correctly guesses the word’s definition, it enters into a shared vocabulary that can be used to study further complexities like grammar and tense.
If the project is a success, not only will robots be able to teach one another new words, but it will be possible for people to teach robots words in the same way we do infants. And the grammatical problems that often stump computers in Turing Test may be solved.
In the video below, the behind-the-scenes video focuses on the humanoid robot MYON. Designed by Frackenpohl Poulheim for Humboldt University's Neurorobotics Research Laboratory. Bayer Material Science helped fabricate the robot's exoskeleton.
SOURCES Neurorobotics Research Laboratory, Plastic Pals
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