It’s called QT and it’s the first robot manufactured in Luxembourg. QT’s “parents” are two Iranians, Aida Nazarikhorram and Pouyan Ziafati, who founded the LuxAI company in 2016.
Aida is a doctor and Pouyan holds a doctorate in artificial intelligence and robotics. They have both been working on QT for two years, but only last year gained the support of the Luxembourg state, through the ‘Fonds National de la Recherche’ (FNR) scheme, and the University of Luxembourg, allowing them to found their company, LuxAI, and start producing their robot.
“Given our areas of competence, we thought we would create a ‘social robot’ for the health sector. Then we realised that we could extend its applications to other sectors, such as education and training, it can also be used for leisure, entertainment or as a companion for children and the elderly,” Aida explained in an interview with Contacto during ICT Spring.
What is a social robot? “It’s a robot designed to interact with people, quickly, with the right expressions and reactions. QT captures facial expressions, interprets emotions and then reacts to your expressive face. That’s why it’s called QT (sounding like ‘cutie’ in English)”, answers the doctor.
“It is a robot with great power of movement, can be used in daycare centres to support children in learning vocabulary, in schools to teach a foreign language when there are no native language teachers, or teach computer language to young people,” explained Aida.
Help with autism
At the moment, revealed the Iranian, there are several robots that are being developed to interact with autistic children.
“QT will be the intermediary between the therapist and the child. It will help the child to regulate his or her emotions and interpret those of others, which is one of the problems these children suffer from, and will teach them how to react in certain social situations.” The robot is not there to “replace therapists, but to help them,” added the doctor.
“This robot is not a prototype, it’s a finished product, ready for the market, it costs about 5,500 euros,” said the QT designer before adding, “we’ve sold some. Three are already being used by the university, where there are two groups working so the robot can assist in rehabilitating patients who have suffered a stroke or in patients who need cognitive stimulus.”
The advantage of QT is that it can be programmed even by people who are not computer experts, Aida explained. “We provide software, hardware and applications, but anyone can programme the robot for a specific mission.”
However, this first generation of LuxAI robots does not come integrated with ‘deep learning’ functions, says the Iranian doctor.
“QT will not learn by itself, it will not generate data, it is designed only to react within a predefined schedule. This is because, for example, when working with children there is no room for unforeseen reactions, the robot must always have the same reactions and responses, otherwise children become confused.