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Scientists develop baby-like robot

The robot that may provide researchers with fresh insights into biological intelligence, consists of a torso, a pair of cameras and a hand.

india Updated: May 06, 2006 11:09 IST

Scientists have developed a robot that learns to interact with the world in the way a human baby would.

The robot called Babybot has been created by roboticists from Italy, France and Switzerland. It experiments with objects nearby and learns how best to make use of them, the online edition of New Scientist reported.

The robot, which could provide researchers with fresh insights into biological intelligence, consists of a torso, a pair of cameras for eyes and a grasping hand.

It has an in-built desire to physically experiment with objects on the table in front of it and an ability to assess different forms of interaction and learn from mistakes.

For example, if the robot fails to grasp an object securely, it tries a different strategy next time. An unbidden skill developed by Babybot was the ability to roll a bottle across the table, the report said.

Its "brain" is actually a cluster of 20 computers, running several neural networks. This is software that mimics a biological neural system and learns in a similar way - by establishing and altering the strength of links between artificial neurons.

By adjusting the neural network software and observing the robot's learning behaviour, the roboticists can test different neuroscience models.

"We started with knowledge from developmental psychologists and neuroscientists," said Giorgio Metta of Genoa University in Italy, a member of the research team. "What we are doing is the same as what neuroscientists do, but from an engineering perspective," he explained.

"The goal is to build a humanoid two-year-old child, which will have all of Babybot's abilities," said Metta.

First Published: May 06, 2006 11:09 IST