Ninety-six hours to build a prototype robot showing human emotions

Thirty-five Master's students in the fields of business, design and engineering participated in an intensive five-day project-based introduction to programming and advanced electronics. The goal of the initiative was to build a fully functional prototype robot able to communicate and show at least four basic human emotions. 


A group of students is presenting a prototype robot showing human emotions at IdeaSquare.

With no previous experience in electronics or coding, groups of students from Portugal, Italy, Norway and Estonia were introduced to the basics of sensors, integrated circuits and actuators, and after just 96 hours they presented their functioning robots at IdeaSquare on Friday, 15 January.

These robots, mostly built around Arduino boards and recycled materials, were able to display different human emotions as a response to external environmental inputs.

The five-day workshop, called öBot, was organised by the IdeaSquare team in collaboration with Porto Design Factory and the Stanford global product-design project ME310, as part of IdeaSquare's research into multidisciplinary collaboration and education.

The prototypes are meant to be just an intermediate exercise to develop essential prototyping skills: most of the participants will continue developing their actual projects in advance of the final presentations scheduled for early June 2016 in Stanford.

by Stefania Pandolfi