Consequential Robotics (CqR) is a new UK-based tech company that combines discerning design with state-of-the-art robotics and bio-inspired artificial intelligence. In the coming decade, robots will form more of a part of our everyday lives, sharing our living and public spaces, and interacting with us in more natural ways. They will play increasingly important roles as assistants and social companions.
Today CqR announce production of a limited number of MiRos, the world’s first commercial bioMimetic Robot —a flexible robot platform for researchers to develop companion robots of the future.
MiRo is a highly featured, low-cost fully programmable mobile developer platform, with a friendly animal-like appearance, six senses, a nodding and rotating head, moveable hearing-ears, large blinking seeing-eyes, and a responsive wagging tail.
MiRo is the first commercial robot to be controlled by hardware and software modelled on the biological brain. A unique brain-based biomimetic control system, 3B-CS, based on twenty years of research on animal brains and behaviour, which allows MiRo to behave in a life-like way—listening for sounds and looking for movement, then approaching and responding to physical and verbal interactions. MiRo’s tactile perception and mood regulation systems means he particularly appreciates a gentle stroke on his back or behind his ears which he responds to with various contented sounds and a wagging tail.
Development of MiRo’s brain-like control system is continuing at the University of Sheffield with support from the EU Horizon 2020 Human Brain Project. Here the goal is to synthesise a brain-inspired memory system for MiRo that will help him to understand and remember his physical and social world.
The creators of MiRo plan to work alongside the wider research community in robotics and artificial intelligence to create new functionality and provide MiRo with advanced sensory processing, planning, understanding of spoken commands and social intelligence. Developers can work to extend the 3B-CS architecture or they can program the robot with their own software, for instance using the popular Robot Operating System (ROS). Future applications go beyond companion robots and include robot-assisted therapy for young and old, robots for school and university education, and for greeting and entertaining visitors at public attractions such as museums.
Launching the robot, Consequential Robotics founder and lead designer Sebastian Conran said: “The goal of our company is to bring autonomous devices into people’s lives in way that will be emotionally engaging, friendly and useful. We know that having a pet can improve people’s well-being, and we believe that companion robots can also offer additional forms of support and companionship. We hope that MiRO can be the forebear of these robot companions of the future”. A limited number of MiRo platforms are available now to professional researchers.