Robots can do many different jobs, but one thing they hadn’t yet figured out—aside from a few well-timed beeps and quips between R2D2 and C3PO—was how to make people laugh.
Now there’s a robot in Japan with its own standup routine.
Professor Atsuo Takanishi of Japan’s Waseda University and his team have spent the better part of the last decade developing KOBIAN, an emotionally expressive biped android platform equipped with a double-jointed neck and motors to move its lips, eyelids and eyebrows to convey both facial expressions and body language.
Imagine a robot resembling a cross between a ventriloquist dummy and The Joker asking,
“Why was the robot angry?”
“Because someone kept pushing its buttons!”
Recently, Takanishi and his team have started teaching KOBIAN how to tell jokes. They’ve even come up with a comedic rulebook to govern the robot’s jokes and skits. The team presented a paper entitled “Bipedal Humanoid Robot That Makes Humans Laugh With Use of the Method of Comedy and Affects Their Psychological State Actively” at the 2014 IEEE ICRA Conference, which lays out methods for making humans laugh.
(Related: Poppy: Another open-source android platform)