The Brief

Nina Cragg and Teresa Lourie
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EmotaBot is robot that evokes empathy in users by reacting to neglect in a way that imitates conciousness.

In the developing world of AI (Artificial Intelligence) the concept of conciousness is a prominant topic of discussion. The question everyone is asking is "can machines have conciousness?." Unfortunately, the answer isn't so simple; conciousness is defined by many different abilities and cannot just be measured as a binary answer. For our project, we were tasked with reproducing some of these defining abilities in order to give our robot the appearance of conciousness; specifically its ability to react to abuse. When placed in a confined space, the robot will become increasingly uncomfortable, until it becomes completely panicked. Throughout the process, it expresses its grief with a series of movements and changes in expression. This scenerio is inspired by pet neglect. Pets are often left in their carts/cages by their owners when they become too burensome. We wanted to recreate this situation because we were interested in the passivity of this kind of abuse.

Our project is a spherical bot with an ultrasonic sensor to evaluate its surroundings. It rotates 360 degrees on a stepper and the face moves up and down on a servo. In addition, the face has two micro servos above the eyes for eyebrows, giving it the ability to emulate facial expressions. Our robot is entirely 3D printed with lasercut acrylic circles placed over the outer shell of the bot in order to let an RGB LED shine through. The light will be yet another indicator of the robot's mood.