All, without exception, we need a hug every now and then. It fills the soul and heart and warms the body. There is no scientific evidence to prove it, but there are things in life that don’t need science to back them up. Even scientists know this.
There are few things in life that “exude” as much humanity as hugs. But there’s a group of scientists who disagree and believe, and are trying to, that you can do without the human.
And so HuggieBot was born, which now has a third version. Regard a robot designed to provide the perfect hug.
The “abrazadeitor”, the brainchild of a team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systemsin Germany, it is “the first fully autonomous human-sized hug robot that recognizes and responds to the user’s hug gestures,” calls it Alexis E. Block, the creature’s father.
Block and his team have been trying for several years to create a robot that can give humans-like hugs and then replace them in various scenarios, such as providing comfort to lonely people or taking the place of someone who can’t give a hug in person. Y they think they understand.
HuggieBot 3.0 has a custom detection system called “HuggieChest” which incorporates two inflated polyvinyl chloride chambers to mimic a “soft chest”. But HuggieBot 3.0 is much more than a soft casket.
The robot offers hugs using a pair of Kinova JACO robotic arms mounted on a metal frame selected to be “anthropomorphic, silent and safe,” they say.
when you give a hug, a barometric pressure sensor and a microphone inside the false chest they detect human contact and begin transmitting data via a microcontroller board to a computer located in the head (printed on 3D printers) of the HuggieBot 3.0.
The team used feedback from 512 real people during 32 tests to train a machine learning system that can detect and classify a series of gestures made during an embrace and respond appropriately.
The HuggieBot 3.0 can stand still, move slightly vertically, touch or stroke a person’s back, and tighten with varying degrees of pressure.
“Instead of maximizing user acceptance for each robot gesture, which would only result in the robot squeezing the user, our behavioral algorithm balances exploration and exploitation to create a natural, spontaneous robot that provides comforting hugs,” they commented.
Block said he started working on the original HuggieBot in 2016 while he was pursuing a master’s degree in robotics. the first version was based on six “commandments of hugging”such as the need for the robot to be soft and warm, and to initiate and end a hug independently.
“HuggieBit 2.0 took the project one step further by incorporating tactile perception to provide adaptive hugs, but the 3.0 iteration is the most advanced version yet, with five commandments of hugs others designed to provide a human-like cuddle experience,” he explained.
In a recent test with 16 participants who had also tried previous versions of the HuggieBot, 12 participants who hugged the robot the longest said they felt more understandable by the machine and that it was “significantly more huggable” than previous releases.
Don’t feel like hugging someone?
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.