Israeli researchers host competition to find best robotic handshake
Are the days of 'Star Wars'-type droids upon us? Israeli researchers host a tournament to see who can create a robot with the most human handshake.
Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 10:48 AM
“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.”
How much can the winner of the tournament expect to take home? “The prize money is not very significant — only about $1,000,” said Dr. Amir Karniel, an engineer who is a member of the university staff. “It is mainly for the honor and for a scientific journal article that will be published.”
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.