Thursday, June 20, 2024

Hyper-realistic humanoid robots could be used in psychotherapy

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A factory in China is developing hyper-realistic humanoid robots that could be used in psychotherapy and counselling.

In the factory in China’s northeastern coastal city of Dalian, neck-length silicone masks lie alongside silicone arms and feet, while disembodied heads sit on display and humanoid robots in various stages of construction stand nearby.

Drawings of robot designs adorn a wall.

Image:
An employee checks his mobile phone as he walks past displays of robot heads, at the office of humanoid robots developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province.
Pic: Reuters

Humanoid robots are the most complex type of robot to build and these ones use artificial intelligence to learn how to recognise human behaviour and mimic it.

“There are many basic models and algorithms that are commonly open source, which everyone uses,” says Ex-Robot chief executive Li Boyang.

Employees work on humanoid robots at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
Employees work on humanoid robots at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Pic: Reuters

“However, we concentrate more on how to enable the AI to recognise and express expressions and emotions.”

As an Ex-Robots worker moves her head, smiles and sticks out her tongue, a humanoid robot mimics her movement thanks to tiny motors installed in several spaces in its head.

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A humanoid robot stands at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
A humanoid robot stands at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Pic: Reuters

“The model we’re making is multi-modal and capable of emotional expression. It can perceive the surrounding environment and produce appropriate facial feedback,” says Li.

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It takes from two weeks to a month to produce a humanoid robot, with prices ranging from 1.5 million yuan (£162,000) to 2 million yuan.

Heads for humanoid robots lie on a table at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Pic:Reuters
Image:
Heads for humanoid robots lie on a table at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China. Pic:Reuters

Li believes humanoid robots will be integrated into healthcare and education.

Faces for humanoid robots lie on a table at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Pic: Reuters
Image:
Faces for humanoid robots lie on a table at the office of developer Ex-Robots in Dalian, Liaoning province, China.
Pic: Reuters

“Psychological counselling and health are certainly future application scenarios. We are currently conducting research such as auxiliary treatment and preliminary screening for emotional and psychological disorders,” he says.

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“Moreover, I believe that emotional interaction has broader applications in service fields, such as those aimed at children.”

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