Japan creates laughing robot that can ‘coexist alongside people’

Kyoto University researchers have recently made a breakthrough in A.I. technology after demonstrating their latest laughing humanoid robot last week.

The team, led by Inoue Koji, an assistant professor at Kyoto University's Graduate School of Informatics in Japan, demonstrated the capabilities of the robot on Sept. 28, showing the A.I.-powered machine conversing with a human and laughing.

In a recent video, the robot,which is named ERICA, can be heardsaying a few phrases in Japanese as it tries to have a conversation with a human, such as “That’s wonderful,” “Oh, is that so?” and “That’s right, isn’t it?” The robot is also programmed to laugh in the middle of conversations.

The researchers explained that they installed A.I. technology into their existing model of the robot that can already converse with people. They then had it listen to recordings of 82 conversations to analyze laughs using A.I.

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The researchers said the robot can tune into the voice of whoever it is speaking to and attempt to adjust the volume of its laugh accordingly.

Speaking to Japanese reporters, Koji said his team hopes to develop the robot to give more appropriate replies while conversing.

Additionally, the researchers hope ERICA can become a source of comfort and mental stimulation for Japan's aging population.

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By developing a robot that laughs naturally, we hope to create a robot that can coexist alongside people,” Koji said.

The first time I heard the robot laugh at the right time, it felt like we could really communicate with each other,” Koji told NHK.

His team also noted that their work was published on Sept. 15 in the international academic journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI, where they fully detail how their technology works.

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