Robots have always fascinated mankind. Five students at the Indian Institute of Kanpur – Nayan Deshmukh, Shyam Gole, Deepali Gupta, Karthik Rangineni and Kritgya Dabi – have come up with ZIZO 101, a ‘social robot’, interacting with people and doing all that people need to do to be social.

Zizo 101 is capable of interacting with others, showing some predefined emotions on demand, chatting with others through Twitter, tracking the face of the person standing in front of him, capturing images of the surrounding on demand and sending it through the Internet.

All that the social robot requires is an Internet connection and a good amount of computing power and working memory in a single board computer. Technologically therefore, the project was implemented through a Radxa Rock board as the development board and Arduino Mega 2560 as the microprocessor. The combination of these with a webcam attached to the animatronic head enables ZIZO 101 to behave as a social robot.

The focus of the project was to construct an animatronic head that had sufficient degrees of freedom to mimic human head movement. As such, six degrees of freedom have been assigned to the robot: five in the face and one in the neck. From these degrees of freedom, the mechanics of the animatronic head were designed such that the neck and facial features can move with the same range and speed of a human being.

The eyes have been designed such that they can rotate around the z-axis and x-axis; so, they can look upwards, downwards and sideward. The eyebrows are controlled by two micro servos separately, enabling the display of some basic emotions like sad, angry, neutral through eyebrow movements.

In a paper detailing the above technicalities, the team of developers write, “The idea of making a social robot i.e. an animatronic head which can mimic human head movements was met by the obvious question- What is its use? The social robot can be used to study human robot interaction, especially child-robot interaction. Though our model is in its primitive stage, it can be improved upon and made capable of being used to study such behavioral aspects.”

The team also believes that in an evolved version, it can be used as a surveillance machine which can be operated over the Internet.

Source: Electronics Club, IIT Kanpur