Roboy the robot is fully compliant, soft, and huggable

Pascal Kaufmann introduces us to Roboy, which represents a new generation of robots.

Roboy the robot is fully compliant, soft, and huggable

Dan Patterson, senior producer for CNET and CBS News, spoke with Pascal Kaufmann, founder and CEO of Mindfire Foundation, in Zurich, Switzerland, during the Davos World Economic Forum, about Mindfire's robot, Roboy. The robot's 3.0 version was launched in February 2020. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

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Pascal Kaufmann: This is Roboy. He was the first guy of a new generation of robots. The thing is, he's fully compliant. If you bump into Roboy, usually the human being breaks his arm. But here, it's actually Roboy because it has material properties that are very, very soft. Roboy will break his arm and then when you glue it together, the arm is a little bit longer, or a little bit shorter. But still it is about 50 motors. Roboy is still able to operate his body. It's not the classical way to build robots like an "if, then, else," because it's such a fussy, messy body that the neuro-network behind it has to be very, very smart and self-learning. This is a new generation of robots that is fully compliant and can interact with human beings because he's not dangerous, right?

And he actually looks cute. He has this baby scheme, like a huge head, and we even can make red cheeks. He can blink an eye. And you can hug him, and it doesn't crash down. Although it was built 2012, he's very robust and it still works kind of.

Dan Patterson: Is Roboy networked?

Pascal Kaufmann: He's actually connected to talents around the globe. When you ask a question to Roboy, talents in the background hear that, an algorithm dispatches the question to the right expert, and Roboy speaks in their own language the solution. And human beings have the impression, he's so smart, but actually there are human beings in the back writing down solutions. So, in a way, he's connected, yeah. And he has thousands of Facebook followers and friends. People actually don't know on Facebook, is he really intelligent, or is it kind of fake? Of course, it's all fake. It's not like the real... I'm really skeptical about AI, but it's state of the art in robotics 2012.

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Pascal Kaufmann introduces us to Roboy the robot.

Image: Dan Patterson