People naturally express themselves through facial gestures and expressions. Our goal is to build a facial gesture human-computer interface fro use in robot applications. This system does not require special illumination or facial make-up. By using multiple Kalman filters we accurately predict and robustly track facial features. Since we reliably track the face in real-time we are also able to recognize motion gestures of the face. Our system can recognize a large set of gestures ranging from “yes”, ”no” and “may be” to detecting winks, blinks and sleeping.
The field of humanoids robotics, widely recognized as the current challenge for robotics research, is attracting the interest of many research groups worldwide. Important efforts have been devoted to the objective of developing humanoids and impressive results have been produced, from the technological point of view, especially for the problem of biped walking.
In Japan, important humanoid projects, started in the last decade, have been carried on by the Waseda University and by Honda Motor Co.
The Humanoid Project of the Waseda University, started in 1992, is a joint project of industry, government and academia, aiming at developing robots which support humans in the field of health care and industry during their life and that share with human information and behavioral space, so that particular attention have been posed to the problem of human-computer interaction. Within the Humanoid Project, the Waseda University developed three humanoid robots, as research platforms, namely Hadaly 2,Wabian and Wendy.
Impressive results have been also obtained by Honda Motor Co. Ltd with P2 and P3, self-contained humanoid robots with two arms and two legs, able to walk, to turn while walking, to climb up and down stairs. These laboratories on their humanoid robots carry on studies on human-robot interaction, on human-like movements and behavior and on brain mechanics of human cognition and sensory-motor learning.
Developing humanoids poses fascinating problems in the realization of manipulation capability, which is still one of most complex problem in robotics. For its scientific content and for its utility in the most robotics applications, the problem of manipulation has been deeply investigated and many results are already available, both as hands and sensors and as control schemes.
The Hitachi Ltd. Hand has proposed an approach in designing robotics hands with its radial space memory alloy (SMA) metal actuation technology. The hand is characterized by a high power-to-weight ratio and a high compactness. The Hitachi Hand uses a large number of thin SMA wires; each finger has 0.02mm diameter SMA wires that are set around the tube housing of the spring actuators. The SMA wire, when heated by passing electric current through it, reacts by contracting against the force of the spring.
The development of a robotic hand for space operations is currently ongoing also in the Robotic Systems Technology Branch at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The Robonaut Hand has a total of fourteen degrees of freedom and consists of a forearm, which houses the motors and drive electronics a two-degree of freedom wrist, and five-fingers, twelve degrees of freedom, hand. The hand itself is divided into sections: a dextrous work set which is used for manipulation and grasping set which allows the hand to maintain stable grasp while manipulating or actuating a given object.
The main goal is to manufacture human-like hands, whose main requirements are cosmetics, noiselessness and low weight and size. Myoelectrically controlled prostheses are at present the best way to partially restore the functionality of an amputated limb. Finally hybrid prostheses combine a body-powered with a myoelectric prosthesis in case of shoulder disarticulation level amputations.
The proposed approach to the design and development of humanoid robots relies on the integration of humanoid components intended both as anthropomorphic hardware systems, and as software modules implementing anthropomorphic control and behavioral schemes.