Sony has launched QRIO (pronounced “curio”), their humanoid robot, cousin of AIBO, the robot dog. In addition to bipedal walking, it has stereo vision and hearing, as well as (supposedly) the ability to recognize faces and voices. It’s motion capabilities look impressive. I’m very curious to see its perception and cognition abilities firsthand. While I’m sure it’s far below Cmdr. Data, I’ll bet it’s far beyond any toy anyone has ever seen before. Another step in the slow rise of A.I.
It will be interesting to see how people react to this robot given its humanoid appearance, and particularly it’s two eyes. Anthropomorphism is a powerful factor in the perception of intelligence. When I first visited the UT Intelligent Robotics Lab as a prospective Ph.D. student, they had a visual-tracking demo running on the lab’s intelligent wheelchair, Vulcan, that would follow a moving object by rotating the chair’s two “eyes”, or the entire chair if the object moved to far from the centerline. Seeing two eyes fixating, and the “body” moving face the center of attention gave an astonishing and enduring illusion of cognition, even when I knew that the behavior was driven by a simple (though well-written) reactive algorithm.
Update: See QRIO run!