“Hello sir, I am C-3PO, human cyborg relations.” According to the Jerusalem Post, it’s the handshake, not the verbal greeting that distinguishes a humanoid robot from an actual human. And one researcher wants to see how blurry that line can become.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev is holding the world’s first international tournament to build a robot that can shake a human hand. This may seem like no big deal, but in actuality, it's no small feat.
“While such a singular gesture might seem simplistic given the diverse tasks we’ve programmed our bots to perform, when you think about it, the handshake is quite complex. Our arms have varying degrees of motion that telerobotics have yet to completely conquer, complicated by the fact that the handshake is mutual rather than dictated by one side or the other — at least, ideally it is.
"When two people clasp hands in greeting, they sense each other's motion, grip, and intensity. At least in the least awkward, most familiar cases, the handshake is a two-person, bi-directional operation. That’s why researchers are so interested in the gesture; they see it as a non-linguistic Turing test, one that tests machines for humanoid motor intelligence.”
Karniel said that once the human handshake and all of its complexities can be understood, there might be medical uses. For example, what if a robot could shake hands with a person with cerebral palsy to determine the amount of disability the person had?
Got an idea? Applicants interested in presenting an idea for this competition need to contact Karniel by the end of August.