EU paying for lovable robots

2012-02-14 21:05

Brussels - The European Union executive in Brussels is funding research designed to make robots more lovable.

"Experiments have shown that children, for example, can become extremely attached to a robot playmate, but can the robot in turn develop a bond with a human being? Could we one day expect robots to develop a behaviour that resembles human attachment?" the European Commission said in a statement issued on Valentine's Day.

Precisely those kind of questions are being explored in the so-called ALIZ-E project, which aims to install memory systems in robots that would allow them to respond consistently to human inputs and develop social relationships.

Such robots are to be tested with children at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan, Italy.

"Researchers will explore whether the robot can engage and maintain the child's interest by tailoring its own behaviour to the child's individual use of language, body language and play preferences," the commission said.

The EU is supporting the initiative with an €8.2m grant, out of a total budget of €10.6m.

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