She gets amazed. She gets disgusted. She gets sad. And she's a robot--the so-called FACE robot designed by scientists at the University of Pisa in Italy.
Modeled after a research team member's wife, the robot was created to show a wide range of human facial expressions, with the goal of going beyond the "uncanny valley" phenomenon.
The "uncanny valley" is responsible for that creepy sensation we humans get when we encounter a robot that's highly realistic but not quite realistic enough to pass for an actual human.
"When there are elements that are both human or nonhuman, this mismatch can produce an eerie sensation in the brain," Karl MacDorman, associate professor of human-computer interaction at Indiana University told CNN. "It's when different parts of the brain are coming to different conclusions at the same time."
MacDorman has no connection to research on the FACE robot.
The FACE bot can register anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. That repertoire requires 32 separate motors to control "muscles" in her head and upper torso, according to LiveScience.
Just how accurately does FACE register human emotions? To find out, her creators asked five autistic and 15 non-autistic children to identify each emotion shown by the robot, NewScientist reported. Their feedback suggests that FACE is better at showing happiness, anger, and sadness than at showing fear, disgust, or surprise.