While Robots have been programmed to perform all kinds of human chores, they still act like - well robots, until Nao, the first robot that has been designed to feel and project human emotions like love, fear and sorrow.
Led by computer scientist Lola Canamero, Nao is part of Feelix Growing (Feel, Interact, Express), a collaborative effort of a team of scientists from eight European Universities
Modeled after infant human or ape behavior, Nao becomes attached to any human who treats it with care or is scared of anyone who mistreats it, thanks to its brain which is programmed to remember good or bad experiences from the past. And, it will show its emotions very clearly too - But since it can't change the expression on its face, it does it through actions - hunching its shoulders when sad, raising its arm for a hug when happy, and cowering away when afraid!
Nao, which uses video cameras to gauge its distance to humans, and sensors, to judge their behavior, has been developed to provide companionship to humans, especially young children in hospitals - To not only comfort them, but also provide some relief for parents, caregivers and doctors. Once the basic model has been perfected, the robot will be programmed to do additional things, such as monitor young children with diabetes.
sources: bbc.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk