Flash Companion Robot

Flash Companion Robot

Share this article

LIREC (Living with Robots and Interactive Companions) is a five year project that explores long-term social interaction between humans and robots. The idea is to build the next generation of social artificial robots. To aid them in this endeavor, the teams have been studying the human-canine relationship, thinking that robots could benefit from dog-like behavioral models. Human behavioral models are tougher of course, so it makes sense to aim a bit lower and hope you can learn a bit more.

The LIREC project will end in August, but they have accomplished quite a bit. Two of the standout humanoid robot platforms are CHARLY (by the University of Hertfordshire) and FLASH (by the Wroclaw University of Technology). FLASH (which stands for Flexible LIREC Autonomous Social Helper) is from Poland. It’s uses Wroclaw University’s EMYS (EMotive headY System), WANDA (a four-fingered dexterous hand and arm), and COSMOS (a self-balancing mobile base). The robot stands almost 4 feet tall, and sports around 27 degrees of freedom (head x8, neck x3, 2 arms x5, 2 hands x3). It also has vision and auditory systems and proximity sensors like laser, ultrasonic and infra-red, which it uses for obstacle detection. However it also uses predefined maps of the environment, so it has an edge where obstacles are concerned.

The interesting thing about the EMYS head (Well, there are several interesting things about it actually) is that it has three separate sections, which allows more leeway as far as expressiveness. For instance, the jaw drops and the brows lift when it needs to convey surprise. The eyelids can even blink and rotate for angry or sad. It is a great design, but it makes the head look a bit like Stewie from Family Guy.

[Plastic Pals]