Ex-Robots engineers enhance humanoid robot with facial expressions

Alex Omenye
Alex Omenye

Engineers in the Ex-Robots factory located in the northeastern coastal city of Dalian are pushing the boundaries of humanoid robotics with a focus on developing sophisticated facial expressions and emotional responses.

Inside the factory, neck-length silicone masks are sprawled across tables alongside silicone arms and feet, while disembodied heads sit on display.

Nearby, humanoid robots in various stages of construction stand ready, with drawings of robot designs adorning the walls.

“We have our own software and algorithm teams,” said Ex-Robots Chief Executive Li Boyang. He explained that humanoid robots represent the most complex class of robotic products.

“There are many basic models and algorithms that are commonly open source, which everyone uses. However, we concentrate more on how to enable the AI to recognize and express expressions and emotions.”

The factory’s innovation is evident as a humanoid robot mimics a worker’s movements, smiling and sticking out its tongue, thanks to tiny motors installed within its head.

“We are also working on the foundation model. The model we’re making is multi-modal and capable of emotional expression. It can perceive the surrounding environment and produce appropriate facial feedback,” Li added.

Ex-Robots produce humanoid robots within a time frame of two weeks to a month, with prices ranging from 1.5 million yuan ($207,000) to 2 million yuan.

Currently, the primary purpose of these robots is for display in museums, including one housed in the same building as the factory.

Looking ahead, Li envisions a broader role for humanoid robots in healthcare and education. “Psychological counseling and health are certainly future application scenarios. We are currently conducting related research, such as auxiliary treatment and preliminary screening for emotional and psychological disorders,” he said.

“Moreover, I believe that emotional interaction has broader applications in service fields, such as those aimed at children.”

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