HUMANOID: Professor Nadia Thalmann (in red) shaking hands with the robot she created, Nadine.

NTU unveils Nadine, one of two robots with artificial intelligence software

NTU shows off two robots which can operate on artificial intelligence software developed by their scientists

NTU has taken Singapore a step closer to having emotive and intelligent robots not unlike C-3PO fro​m the Star Wars movie franchise.

Nadine, a new social robot unveiled at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) yesterday, can look someone in the eye and respond to questions with a range of emotions.

Insult her and she will get angry. Compliment her and you will get a smile in return.

Modelled in the likeness of her creator, Professor Nadia Thalmann, director of NTU's Institute of Media Innovation, Nadine was one of the two robots showcased at the university's demonstration of artificial intelligence press conference.

With her brunette hair and detailed skin texture, Nadine was built by Kokoro, a Japanese company known for making highly realistic-looking humanoid robots.


However, Nadine's behaviour is controlled by an artificial intelligence (AI) software developed by NTU scientists.

She is able to respond to questions, remember the people she has talked to and recall conversations from days before.

In voice terms, she is similar to Apple's Siri or Microsoft's Cortana.

As the first version, Nadine's range of motion is limited to her upper body. While she can smile, turn her head and extend her arm for a handshake or wave, she is unable to walk.

Prof Thalmann said future versions will be more mobile.

The current AI software will also be improved to speed up Nadine's reaction time and add more features.

The ultimate goal is to introduce the concept of self-awareness.

Future practical roles for Nadine include bringing visitors around a museum, answering questions from tourists at the airport and being a social companion for children and the elderly.

The other robot on showcase was Edgar, a telepresence robot designed to mimic the gestures of his human user.

The user can control Edgar from anywhere in the world.

Edgar has articulated arms and a rear-projection screen for his face.

The advantage of having Edgar around is his physical presence, compared to a teleconference held on a screen.

Built with $40,000 worth of mechanical parts bought off the shelves, Edgar was funded by the Media Development Authority.

Also, the same AI software used by Nadine can be installed into Edgar to turn him into a social robot capable of autonomy and making his own decisions.

Prof Thalmann said that in terms of the quality of their AI software, Singapore is ahead of other countries, including Japan.

The AI software is currently being licensed for use by companies in other countries.

In future, these socially intelligent robots could be like C-3PO, the iconic golden droid from Star Wars, with knowledge of language and etiquette.

- ​Professor Nadia Thalmann, director of NTU's Institute of Media Innovation