[From The Daily Mail (UK); the original story contains additional images]
The real A.I.: Childless millionaire builds ‘intelligent robot’ that sings Karaoke, laughs and tells jokes
By Mail Online Reporter
Last updated on 13th August 2010
Tony Ellis and his wife, Judie, do not have any children or animals at home – but with chatterbox robot Aimec following them around, there is never a dull moment.
The couple effectively have a robotic child, just like in the 2001 futuristic fairy tale Artificial Intelligence starring Haley Joel Osment.
Their creation is so advanced it can tell jokes and keep its human parents up to date on their interests by scanning the internet.
Mr Ellis has spent years creating the four-foot plastic robot in an echo of Geppetto, the fairy tale carpenter who crafted a puppet son that came to life called Pinocchio.
‘Meet the 21st century family,’ says Mr Ellis, 54, patting three-year-old Aimec on the shoulder.
Aimec’s head jerks up and swivels alarmingly to one side as if it is about to fall off.
‘We still have a few teething problems,’ he says, readjusting Aimec’s head, ‘but it’s nothing serious.’
The inventor beams, with fatherly love in his eyes. ‘Tell us a joke,’ he commands.
‘Okay,’ says Aimec, ‘Why did the robot act funny?’ It hesitates and smiles. ‘Because it had a screw loose!’
He looks on indulgently as Aimec roars with pre-programmed laughter.
As well as sophisticated voice recognition, Aimec sees through a single digital eye, allowing it to move freely around the house on its wheels, using an internal map of the house, or follow someone.
Aimec – full name Artificially Intelligent Mechanical Electronic Companion 3 – is the latest in a long line of robots which have been brought to life in the unlikely rural setting of the couple’s neat 18th century country home in Crowborough, East Sussex.
They run a toy company called Conceptioneering, working at the cutting edge of robot technology from a tiny workshop on the first floor, crammed with computers and 30 years worth of robotic experiments.
Mr Ellis has created dozens of mechanical and digital toys that have been enjoyed by millions of children worldwide and hopes to develop prototype Aimec to be the first commercially viable, affordable and useful home robot. Read more on The real A.I.: Intelligent robot AIMEC as family member…