Robot Debuts as Receptionist at Carnegie Mellon
Valerie, believed to be the world’s first storytelling roboceptionist, recently began greeting visitors as they enter the computer science building at Carnegie Mellon University campus. The product of a two-and-a-half-year collaboration between researchers and students in Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute in the School of Computer Science (SCS) and the School of Drama in the College of Fine Arts, Valerie is said to be a robot “with lots of attitude” and has many stories to tell.
Professionally attired and carefully coifed, the roboceptionist sits in a specially designed reception booth in the lobby of CMU’s Newell-Simon Hall, and directs her brilliant blue gaze on everyone who passes by. Her sensors alert her to the presence of people and she offers assistance and directions to lost, confused or questioning visitors, according to officials.
“For the most part, the technology bringing Valerie to life involves building on what we’ve used in the past, but deploying it in a totally new way,” said Dr. Reid G. Simmons, a research professor in the Robotics Institute.
Not unlike a human receptionist, Valerie spends a lot of time talking on the telephone. People can overhear her conversations with friends, business callers and with her parental adviser, her “motherboard.”
According to CMU officials, Valerie’s life is written like a soap opera with four story lines — therapy, lounge singer, work and social life. Each has 10 episodes, which rotate periodically.
Valerie’s Web site, <www.roboceptionist.com>, details everything about her life, including the family photo album and videos of her in action.
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