Having extensive experience with robots and automated systems in a manufacturing environment, I would be tempted to summarize a robot’s emotions as: doing its job (good), throwing parts on the floor (angry), or simply not working whatsoever (breakdown — literally and figuratively). Of course, nothing I’ve ever worked with has had an incredibly expressive face like SEER, the Simulative Emotional Expression Robot.
This robot — with its smooth, not-quite-human skin, beautifully colored eyes, and well-actuated head — falls squarely into the robotic uncanny valley where a human might wonder if it isactually alive.
As shown in the first video below, SEER can rotate its head in three axes, then move its eyes independently to focus on a certain point in space. In addition to that, the robot features animatronic eyelids, along with eyebrows that are formed with soft elastic wire.
Besides pure movement abilities, the second clip demonstrates its ability to mimic a human’s head movement using computer vision. According to creator Takayuki Todo, the purpose of this robot isn’t to answer the question of whether a robot/computer will obtain conscious emotions, but to see if it’s possible to actually portray these emotions in the same manner as a human.
It’s a brilliant design, but certainly one that could haunt one’s thoughts in the wrong context. If that’s not enough robo-weirdless for you, be sure to check out this karaoke-bot made out of a disembodied Thomas the Tank Engine face, or this modular synthesizer with eyes, a mouth, and lots and lots of hair. Because… why not?