London: An Indian academic in the UK has developed humanoid robots which use artificial intelligence to take on humans and learn opponents’ strategy as they play and try to win the traditional ‘rock-scissors-paper’ game. Dr Ram Ramamoorthy from Bangalore led the team in developing the humanoid devices at the University of Edinburgh where he held a demonstration on Wednesday.
Ramamoorthy earned his undergraduate degree in Instrumentation and Electronics Engineering from the University of Bangalore and then went to the University of Texas at Austin, where he was awarded his PhD degree. He arrived at the University of Edinburgh in 2007. He is now working in the School of Informatics, which is the biggest computer science department in Europe.
The Robots will play rock-scissors-paper game against human opponents in a series of sell-out shows at this year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival. Rock-scissors-paper is a hand game usually played by two people, where players simultaneously form one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. The rock beats scissors, the scissors beat paper and the paper beats rock. If both players throw the same shape, the game is tied. During a series of one-hour workshops at this year’s festival, the robots will also practice responding to human gestures.
With help from a Microsoft Kinect, a motion-sensing device originally designed for the Xbox 360 video game, the two-foot-high robots will learn to respond to people’s gestures and, ultimately, learn to anticipate their actions. In addition, the robots hope to hone their soccer skills in anticipation of the 2013 RoboCup, a global football contest for robot teams. The free one-hour workshops are to be held at the National Museum of Scotland until Friday.
Ramamoorthy, who is overseeing the robots’ participation in the Science Festival, said: “These popular little robots are very entertaining to watch and we hope that the Science Festival crowds will enjoy seeing them in action. “However, our research has a serious and very useful purpose, we hope to develop machines that are smart enough to work alongside humans, assisting in tasks where people could use a helping hand.”