Diego-san, UCSD’s android baby boy
The Machine Perception Lab at the University of California, San Diego has taken delivery of a new robot simulating a robot baby. Diego-san, as they call it, is sized more like an 8-year-old, standing 130 cm tall and weighing 30 kg. But it’s intended to be a research platform for studying the cognitive development of infants.
Part of that research includes “natural communication,” including nonverbal communication through facial expressions. For that reason, they invested in a top-of-the-line android head made by Hanson Robotics. Thanks to 27 moving parts in this head alone, Diego-san can make a variety of facial expressions, which you can see in the video below.
The rest of the robot is built by Kokoro Co. Ltd., which previously built a robot infant called CB2 for Osaka University, as well as numerous other androids and animatronics. The total robot features 44 pneumatic joints. Dr. Javier Movellan, lead researcher for the project, explains, “Diego-san was developed to approximate the complexity of a human body, including the use of actuators that have similar dynamics to that of human muscles.”
Here’s the first public video of Diego-san in action:
Yes, it’s still creepy. But every generation of these androids is better than the last. I can almost look at Diego-san without cringing. What do you think?