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The Warsaw Voice » Other » August 13, 2008
Technology
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Robotic Life Companion
August 13, 2008   
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The Robotic Life Companion is a work in progress by an international team that includes scientists from the Wrocław University of Technology. The companion has been designed to smile, tell jokes, serve coffee, recognize its owner and even pick up on his or her moods.

The Robotic Life Companion is a joint effort between British, German, Hungarian, Polish and Portuguese students. The Polish contingent is being led by Prof. Krzysztof Tchoń from the Department of Fundamental Cybernetics and Robotics of the Institute of Computer Engineering, Control and Robotics at the Wrocław University of Technology.

"We're not building an ersatz person as far as looks are concerned," says Tchoń. "Our future cybernetic friend shouldn't resemble a real person overly much. It'll be mounted on wheels and will have to be able to move around by itself. The robot will have to be able to maneuver around obstacles and recognize the voice and appearance of its owner." The designers plan to have a prototype up and running in four years but may have something to show for their efforts as early as this summer.

Polish researchers have already notched up quite a few achievements in artificial intelligence. Łukasz Osowski and Michał Kaszczuk from the coastal city of Gdynia won the 2006 Blizzard Challenge for their voice synthesizer Ivona. The Blizzard Challenge is an international competition organized annually by SynSIG, the Speech Synthesis Special Interest Group of the International Speech Communication Association (ISCA). The prize was announced at the Interspeech 2006 conference in Pittsburgh, PA, USA. While Ivona has robotic applications, its primary purpose it to help vision-impaired people access the internet.

Wrocław-based firm Neurosoft is working on ways to utilize artificial intelligence to alleviate traffic congestion. Company executives discussed their research at the Wrocław University of Technology in mid-May. "Controlling traffic flow is not that simple," says Neurosoft's Cezary Dołęga. "Even a super-intelligent system depends on better roads." Dołęga added that such a system could conceivably help motorists by directing them to less congested roads.

Marek Zoellner
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