A new 3D printed Disney robot was developed by internal researchers (yes, Disney has an amazing research division for AI, robotics, graphic animation and animatronics) for lifelike gaze in human-robot interactions using a largely 3D printed (they didn’t need to state it officially but obviously the robot’s face is, as well as some of the internal parts) humanoid Audio-Animatronics bust.
Previous work examining mutual gaze between robots and humans has focused on technical implementation. This new study presented a general architecture that seeks not only to create gaze interactions from a technological standpoint, but also through the lens of character animation where the fidelity and believability of motion are paramount. The researchers seek to create an interaction that demonstrates the illusion of life.
A complete system is hereby described that perceives persons in the environment, identifies persons-of-interest based on salient actions, selects an appropriate gaze behavior, and executes high fidelity motions to respond to the stimuli. The team used mechanisms that mimic motor and attention behaviors analogous to those observed in biological systems including attention habituation, saccades, and differences in motion bandwidth for actuators.
Additionally, a subsumption architecture allows layering of simple motor movements to create increasingly complex behaviors which are able to interactively and realistically react to salient stimuli in the environment through subsuming lower levels of behavior. The result of this system is an interactive human-robot experience capable of human-like gaze behaviors.