Even machines need a dose of laughter too! A group of inventors from Konan University have created a stand-up comedy duo that may have a robotic voice but is all warmth and humor; well, at least as warm and as funny as a robot can get.
The robot duo, made up of 55 centimeter tall Gonta and one-meter tall Aichan, made their debut for elementary students last August at the university in Kobe. They discussed and joked about current events in the Kansai dialect and can even change their facial expressions to get more laughs. They have been asked to “perform” at the university’s open campus and also in the school’s science classes. The team from Konan’s Faculty of Intelligence and Informatics began working on the robots back in April 2008, at about the same time of the department’s creation. Aichan was finished first by August 2009, but it was still a straightforward auto-response giving robot. When Gonta was finished by January 2011, the team thought it would be a good idea if they could create a comedy act out of the two.
The trick to their “sense of humor” is actually pretty simple: Aichan searches the Internet for news about a given topic and then creates a script. Meanwhile, Gonta is programmed to mispronounce some of the words and Aichan then plays off on these verbal cues. One of the men who created the duo, Professor Akiyo Nadamoto, believes they can do better though as he thinks they’re not very funny sometimes. He is determined to improve their auto-scripting system in order to improve their sense of humor. However, the robots might still be funnier than some comedians out there.