UON researchers give Tin Man a heart

Companion Robot Technology

15 July 2014

Researchers at the University of Newcastle have answered Tin Man's plea for a heart with the invention of technology aimed at enabling robots to feel emotion in a near human-like manner.

Companion Robot 

A major advancement in companion robot technology, it helps a robot to connect with a human user based on shared emotional experiences.

The robot achieves this by scanning and interpreting features of the surrounding environment including colour, facial expression and fractal dimension – how comfortable we feel in a particular environment.  

"The impact of environmental sensory stimuli, such as sight, sound, smell, and touch, are known to have an effect on the emotions and behaviour of people. In order for a robot to relate to humans, it must first be able to visualise and feel through the same modes of perception," said project leader Aaron Wong.

"Having the ability to sense the environment can assist robots to become friendlier in the eyes of a user, as they can better relate to how humans feel, based on the surrounding environment," said Mr Wong.


Companion robot technology is one of several robot technologies under development at the University of Newcastle. Combining disciplines as diverse as neuroscience, applied mathematics, control engineering, mechatronics, computer science, software engineering, nursing and architecture, the research group collaborates with industry to deliver cutting-edge technologies said project leader Associate Professor Stephan Chalup.

"Through our NUbots project we are able to develop and test cutting edge technology for wider application such as in Defence, Healthcare, Aged care and home automation," said Associate Professor Chalup.

Recently, the team has added autonomous helicopters to the mix.

"One application with the helicopter technology would be for use on our beaches. They could be used for shark patrols, monitoring surf conditions and finding lost children," said Associate Professor Chalup.

Contact: Sheena Martin
Contact Phone: +61 2 4921 8714