Here we will discuss the Sophia robot by Hanson Robotics which was created or “activated” in 2016 and has had several revisions since then.
Sophia along with perhaps Boston Dynamics robots have probably received the most media attention world wide for the last 5 or so years.
Sophia was the first robot to be granted a robot citizenship and spoke at a United Nations event.
Hanson Robotics is an AI and robotics company which is “dedicated to creating socially intelligent machines that enrich the quality of our lives.”
They built Sophia to be a research robot for AI projects and although the founder David Hanson firmly believes in making ultra realistic robots, they chose to make Sophia look like a robot with its exposed back of the head and robotic type arms.
Sophias very realistic face with moving eyes and mouth was apparently inspired by the face of both 1960’s actress Audrey Hepburn and David Hanson’s wife.
Now Sophia had legs designed in 2017 by Rainbow Robotics but during all of its press appearances in the last few years Sophia comes out on a rolling trolley or is wheeled out wearing a long flowing dress.
Making a robot walk on uneven terrain is extremely difficult and the risk of falling while on television is extremely real and not something that any company would want to have happen.
You will soon as of June 2021 be able to buy a lower power R & D version of Sophia (upper body only on a stand) for research use at this Robot Shop website for about $100k and in terms of DOF it has a DOF of 74, with 32 in the head, 14 in the arms, 14 in the hands and 6 in the torso.
So although Sophia’s public personna is as a torso and head only robot, here is some explanation of the legs that Sophia was given in 2017. https://www.hansonrobotics.com/the-making-of-sophia-sophias-legs/
The legs are based on a design by a Korean robotics company along with a Las Vegas company.
The Korean company had a robot called Jaemi-HUBO (followed by a newer one called DRC HUBO) which Hanson had modified and made smaller for use with Sophia.
The legs operate with 12 48volt motors with batteries on the legs and back of Sophia.
Customized Podo software was used and sensors to calculate balance and trajectory.
But we seldom see Sophia walking in any press events largely because it seems that the goal is to highlight the work being done on Sophia’s ever improving AI capabilities.
Most of Sophias media appearances have been while using its mobile base which contains 2 LIPO batteries for its power.
Often Sophia’s media events have it saying prewritten statements as in the October 2021 Arabian appearance and other times it is having conversations with its interviewers. Anyhow, watch the Sophia Youtube clip now. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxrap91jVXk
Hanson Robotics does say on their webpage that they do also compliment Sophias conversational abilities with human assistance from their operators at times in something they call “hybrid-human AI intelligence”
The quote on the Hanson webpage on behalf of Sophia is “sometimes I’m operating in my fully ai autonomous mode of operation and other times my AI is intermingled with human generated words. Either way, my family of human developers (engineers, artists, scientists) will craft and guide my conversations, behaviors, and my mind”
Its speech recognition as of 2021 was made possible by the Alphabet company and its ability to speak and sing came from the Cerproc company’s text to speech synthesis engine.
The world has found it extremely difficult to make a perfectly human AI robot and the GPT project is one approach to doing this at least with their conversational internet web bot characters/avatars that you can see on your computer screen and have conversations with.
Engineered Arts has their amazing entertainment robots but they use their “Tinman” telepresence software in which people can ask the robots questions but a human remote operator can understand the questions and respond to give the impression that the robot has amazing artificial intelligence ability.
Sophia had many well viewed media appearances in North America on shows like the Jimmy Fallon show and in an interview with US motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, Sophia where it was rolled out on a trolley.
Watch the Tony Robbins interview in which he was very kind to let Sophia make a few errors in its answers and moved forward with the interview in a very tactful and respectful way. We all know that robots are not perfect speakers yet…this is coming of course.N
No there have been several versions of the research robot called Sophia and its technology has evolved from an earlier robotHanson made called Phillip K. Dick.
There is a version of Sophia called Sophia 2020 which is available for sale and another R & D version of Sophia called Asha which was sent out to India for research purposes in 2021.
A newer robot named Grace which is considered to be Sophia’s younger sister will soon be available for use in healthcare environments.
Hanson Robotics uses a dozen or so terms on its webpage to describe its technology or philosphy. Words like SOUL(Synthetic Organism Unifying Language) , Loving AI project, SIC (Sophia Intelligence Collective), SophiaDAO, SingularityNET, and hybrid human-AI intelligence.
Lets talk about some of the technology that is inside of Sophia.
Its skin is made of Hansons own in house latex rubber like product that they call Frubber.
The face has 24 points of movement including the eyes and eybrows and eyelids and mouth etc.
(under construction Aug 11)