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Design of embodied social robot v1.0 Robbie (2012-2013)

At the 2012 United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union’s conference, entitled "Girls in Technology", Cork teenager Joanne O'Riordan issued a challenge to the world to build her a robot. Joanne was born with total amelia, a condition which means she has no arms or legs. This has given her an unique perspective on technology and how it can benefit those who require extra assistance in their daily lives.

Joanne’s challenge prompted the development of a robot designed to do simple daily tasks for people with disabilities . Tasks such as retrieving items, interacting with appliances or raising the alarm should an accident occur could be done by a robot. To this end a new robot morphology was developed which is suited to working in human environments such as the home. The robot also features a social interface in the form of a face which can display emotions and provide intuitive feedback to the user. An innovative gripper solution developed at Cornell University was incorporated on the robot arm to allow the robot to pick up a wide range of objects . In order to control the robot, an Ipad app was developed which can send commands to the robot and can easily be used by Joanne.

A first prototype of the robot was demonstrated to Dr Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in March 2014. Since then development has continued and a second prototype is nearing completion. Current research is focused on the incorporation of autonomous control of the robot and improving its ability to interact with humans in a natural way. Additionally the means by which the joints of the robot are actuated is undergoing significant enhancements with the use of pneumatic artificial muscles. These “muscles” provide the compliance necessary for the robot to operate safely in close contact with humans

  • International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
  • Rwandan President, Paul Kagame

Robbie with some of the team that developed it

Joanne O’Riordan, winner of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Outstanding Young Person of the Year award 2015

Dr Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is introduced to Robbie