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This AI robot mimics human expressions to build trust with users

Scientists at Columbia University have developed a robot that mimics the facial expressions of humans to gain their trust.

Named Eva, the droid uses deep learning to analyze human facial gestures captured by a camera. Cables and motors then pull on different points of the robot’s soft skin to mimic the expressions of nearby people in real-time.

The effect is pretty creepy, but the researchers say that giving androids this ability can facilitate more natural and engaging human-robot interactions.

Eva produces different expressions by utilizing one or more of six basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, and surprise. Per the study paper:

For example, while joy would correspond to one facial expression, the combination of joy and surprise would result in happily surprised, which would correspond to a separate facial expression.

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The team trained the robot to generate these expressions by filming it making a series of random faces. Eva’s neural networks then learned to match the humanoid’s gestures to those of human faces captured on its video camera.

Credit: Creative Machines Lab/Columbia Engineering