Earlier this week, researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore unveiled a new humanoid robot who has her own personality. The artificially intelligent robot, named Nadine, will be working as a receptionist at NTU as a test of the emotional and social intelligence the scientists have given her. According to the developers, Nadine can recognize previously introduced people, recall their names, and remember the conversations that she had with them. But she also has a personality and her mood can change, depending on how she is treated.
Nadine is modeled on Nadia Thalmann, a robotics professor and the director of the Institute for Media Innovation. Thalmann points out that, in the future, these robots could become companions for children or the elderly, and could even take over healthcare work and receptionist jobs. “As countries worldwide face challenges of an aging population,” she explains, “social robots can be one solution to address the shrinking workforce, become personal companions for children and the elderly at home, and even serve as a platform for healthcare services in future.”
This is somewhat like a real companion that is always with you and conscious of what is happening. So in future, these socially intelligent robots could be like C-3PO, the iconic golden droid from Star Wars, with knowledge of language and etiquette.
When a guest arrives at the university, Nadine greets them as any receptionist would, with a handshake and polite conversation. In addition to engaging with visitors, Nadine can also lip-sync to popular music.
In addition to Nadine, researchers at NTU have unveiled EDGAR, a robot powered through telecommunication. EDGAR, who can also participate in human interaction through greetings, a smile, and a programmed script, can be controlled from anywhere that has internet, including across the world from his human user. EDGAR, like Nadine, could prove to be an asset to many industries, including tourism and education.
Researchers hope that in the future Nadine, who is powered by software similar to Apple’s Siri, will acquire skills beyond her simple ability to engage in small talk.