Does this fella look familiar? That’s because it’s Gaël Langevin’s open source, 3D printed InMoov robot. Only, it’s not Gaël’s. It’s a copy, made by a group of researchers at the University of Lincoln in the UK. Dr. John Murray, from the School of Computer Science, has downloaded Gaël’s friend and 3D printed it himself. And Dr. Murray’s not even calling it InMoov! He’s calling it MARC (Multi-Actuated Robotic Companion). So, who’s this MARC fella?
MARC, it seems, has been assembled, along with another robot, to help Lincoln scientists study how to enhance the relationship between humans and robots. They’re looking to root out methods for establishing realistic, long-term relationships between bots and people. The team plans to inculcate MARC with personality traits and characteristics that resemble those of humans, with the goal of programming the robot to understand how long-term human-to-human relationships are formed. That way, the robot may learn to develop the appropriate traits to provide for a long-term robot-to-human relationship.
The goal of building robots capable of bonding with humans? The researchers believe that human-like robots could serve as companions for the elderly or for children with autism, Aspergers or attachment disorder. Essential to designing such companions would be robots with key identifiable human characteristics. In the past, designing and building a complex robot would have required a great deal of money. With InMoov, however, the team can do so at a fraction of the price.
MARC will be introduced to the public at the engineering and manufacturing event Get up to Speed in Sheffield, UK on April, 8th. In addition to meeting MARC, the team will also show off some 3D printed quadcopters that will record and broadcast the convention. Dr. Murray says of the event, “This is a great opportunity for the University to showcase its research. I’m extremely keen to help young people see that subjects such as Computer Science and Engineering are not as daunting as they might think. Once they have been able to interact with MARC and fly the quadrocopters they will see that these topics are actually quite fun.”
The open source nature of the InMoov robot may slowly allow more and more copies to appear around the world. This is both exciting and frightening. InMoov was already a startling replica of a human being, but now we have to worry about copies of copies? How will we know what’s real anymore?!?!