Japan is a nation obsessed with robots and their interaction with human kind. Minoru Asada, robotics engineering professor at Osaka University and his team adopting a new approach to getting to know humans by studying their various functions at different stages of life.
Noby, whose name is abbreviated from “9-month-old baby,” is a baby robot created by Minoru Asada and funded by the government’s Science and Technology Agency to simulate infant behavior. Its purpose is to test theories of human development and come to a better understanding of how we grow up.
Noby’s urethane skin is very soft and flexible and its joints move like those of a human baby. The bot is 28 inches tall and weighs 17 pounds, which is similar to that of a human 9-month-old child.
Noby can feel things around him with the help of 600 sensors across its body. Cameras and microphones that are fitted into its head permit the baby bot to see and hear.
“You can load your software into the robot, watch how it reacts to human actions and its surroundings, and compare it with the behavior of real children,” said Tokyo University professor Yasuo Kuniyoshi, who led development of Noby with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
The same project that unveiled Noby has also developed two other bots. One is the five year-old humanoid known as the “M3-Kindy” whose name derives from “man-made man,” and “kindy” for kindergarten. The other is the M3 Neony, which simulates a newborn baby.
Will we ever understand the exact mechanism that sparks the human growth process? It would seem that is possible to be seen.