Meet iCub. This 1 meter tall baby robot, a project lead by University of Plymouth on ITALK (Integration and Transfer of Action and Language Knowledge in Robots), will be available next year. It will be used to study how a robot could quickly develop language skills.
ITALK plans to teach iCub how to speak, through similar methods that human parents would use. Experiments with iCub include activities like inserting uniquely shaped objects into their corresponding holes of a box or stacking wooden blocks. After this, the iCub will learn to name objects and actions so it can acquire basic phrases such as "robot puts cube in hole".
Professor Nehaniv, an affiliated researcher, said “Our approach is that robot will use what it learns individually and socially from others to bootstrap the acquisition of language, and will use its language abilities in turn to drive its learning of social and manipulative abilities. This creates a positive feedback cycle between using language and developing other cognitive abilities. Like a child learning by imitation of its parents and interacting with the environment around it, the robot will master basic principles of structured grammar, like negation, by using these abilities in context.”