Can robots learn to communicate by studying and imitating humans’ gestures? That’s what MIRROR’s researchers aimed to find out by studying how infants and monkeys learn complex acts such as grasping and transferring it to robots.
“Our main motivation for the project was to advance the understanding of how humans recognise and imitate gestures,” says Professor Giulio Sandini, coordinator of the three-year IST-funded project, MIRROR. “We did that by building an artificial system that can learn to communicate by means of body gestures.”
Researchers began by designing and conducting behavioural experiments with infants of different ages and with monkeys within the framework of the so-called ‘mirror neurons’. These neurons, first discovered in the brains of monkeys, have the unique property of being activated not only when monkeys or human infants perform specific grasping actions, but also when they see the same grasping action performed by someone else – for example, the mirror image of his or her own body. Mirror neurons behave as a motor resonant system activated both during goal-directed actions and the observation of similar actions performed by others.
Tara Morris | alfa
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