Last time we saw Qbo, it all about the little robot that could “recognize” itself in the mirror in an experiment by the Corpra scientists. As promised, in the team’s next step for their robot-consciousness experiments, they’ve brought together two Qbos that can recognize each other and have a little conversation.
This time around, the scientists slightly modified the Qbo’s ROS (robot operating system) and “object recognizer” to identify another individual Qbo. Since robots don’t have faces (yet…), the scientist programed each robot to signal randomly generated nose flashes to distinguish individual robots. When the green Qbo (Daniel 123) encounters another Qbo with a different nose flash, it knows it has met another member of its “species.”
In video, you can see Daniel 123 interacting with Arturo and recognizing itself. Once Daniel 123 turns around, it encounters another blue robot (Jane 234) that it recognizes as another Qbo. Both robots are equipped with speech synthesis (Festival) and recognition (Julius) programs that allow them to exchange names and hold an extremely short–but all-so-endearing–conversation with a flirting one-liner.
The Corpra scientists go into great detail about why their purely programing experiment is just a far-away first step towards real “consciousness”–which is still entirely up for debate as to what it means and makes it happen. But can’t we skip that all psychological and philosophical discussion already, because honestly all we want to see is some robot-on-robot interaction.