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Bristol Elumotion Robotic Torso 1, aka Berti

Berti--which stands for Bristol Elumotion Robotic Torso 1--can produce numerous humanlike gestures as it speaks, and in so doing creates the impression of a conversation.

The robot has been jointly developed by Bristol Robotics Lab and robotic hardware developer Elumotion, after the former decided it wanted to get more involved with humanoid robotics.

Berti was on display at London's Science Museum last week and headed over to meet him.

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Berti's hands

The Elumotion team designed and built the hands, limbs, and body of Berti to mirror nature. Elumotion co-founder Craig Fletcher told that it's the most complex control system the company has developed.

The specially designed hands, seen here, can move in several different ways--the thumb can move separately from the fingers, for example--which together with the arm can accurately portray the movements of a human being.

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Human hand meets robot hand

When a user puts on a data glove, left, the sensor in the center transmits the hand movements to Berti, allowing the robot to mimic them as they happen.

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Rock, paper, scissors

Berti can also be set up to play the game rock, paper, scissors with a human. It randomly generates the three hand shapes for the game and by using a range of sensors is able to tell whether it's won, lost, or drawn the contest. In this case, Berti won.

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Berti, public speaker

Here you can see Berti making a presentation. Using a preprogrammed computer voice, the robot is able to relate its hand and arm gestures to the words it's saying.

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Erwin the robot, frowning

Also on show at the Science Museum was Erwin (emotional robot with intelligent networks), a robot aimed at putting a face to robotics. Developed by the computer science department at the University of Hertfordshire, Erwin is able to play a version of peek-a-boo. Here it's the brown tubes that form a frown as the robot's camera can't detect a human face.

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Erwin the robot, smiling

But when the robot can see a human face it smiles, as it's doing here.

Erwin is part of the Felix Growing project, which is aimed at making robots appear more human so they can be successfully integrated into homes and businesses in the future.

John Murray from the University of Hertfordshire told that the technology could also be used to help autistic children develop their ability to relate to the others more effectively.

The robot also has microphones that can react to a human voice and can distinguish between different speakers.

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Robot nursery

This robot nursery is also a University of Hertfordshire project. The idea is for a robot--in this case a dog--to explore its surroundings and react to what it discovers.

The robot can make out certain objects by comparing them to images stored on it. When it fails to discern something, it becomes "distressed," indicated by a red light appearing on its head. It can then be reassured by someone stroking it--or swiping a sensor on its back.

The robot is also able to recognize human faces and will react by wagging its tail and ears if it sees someone.

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