Sophia the humanoid is getting a robo sister named Joyce with an eye on computer vision capabilities

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Robots have long been staples of science fiction. In recent years, humanoids have made a transformative leap from the pages of sci-fi pulp to the real world.

Image: Immervision/Hanson Robotics

Robots have long been staples of science fiction and pop culture. In recent years, humanoids have made a transformative leap from the pages of sci-fi pulp as robots a la Hanson Robotics’ Sophia and others begin to populate the planet. On Thursday, Hanson Robotics announced a new partnership with the optics manufacturer Immervision to “further evolve machine perception to help deliver human-like vision and beyond.” Turns out, Sophia could soon have a robotic humanoid “sister” named Joyce.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Immervision on the Joyce project,” said David Hanson, CEO of Hanson Robotics. “I believe that strong computer vision like Immervision’s products, combined with embodied cognition of a social robot like Sophia and her little sister Joyce, will produce in huge leaps forward in useful AI and robotics.”

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Hanson Robotics will build on its experience with Sophia to construct Joyce’s “state-of-the-art humanoid body,” the release said, which will include Immervision’s panomorphEYE-based visual cortex and three ultra wide-angle cameras.

Immervision will make a development kit available to boost the latest humanoid’s “perception and understanding of her environment to solve computer vision challenges” using software, sensors and artificial intelligence algorithms, the release said.

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Image: Immervision/Hanson Robotics

Alain Paquin, head of the Joyce Project with Immervision, said the company is preparing to launch a second version of the panomorphEYE Development Kit noting that it would be available in “a few months” as the exact date has yet to be determined.

“The development kit will simplify the integration of new sensors and AI algorithms which will open the door to the development of a wide-range of new capabilities across industries,” Paquin said.

SEE: Photos: Best robots at CES 2021 (TechRepublic)

Paquin said third-party computer vision technology integration could allow Joyce to “ensure driver safety in assisted driving and autonomous cars” via improved optics, “help detect coronavirus with thermal cameras that scan large crowds and spot people” with elevated temperatures, improve firefighters’ “ability to detect people over trees and other objects and see through the smoke” and other capabilities.

Providing machines with “human-level perception” will have a “massive economic impact” across industries, the release said.

“Soon, machine perception will have a significant impact on our daily lives. AI-based machine perception will actually go beyond human vision as it doesn’t have the same limitations,” Paquin said.

As an example of these limitations, Paquin specifically noted 360-degree views “without having to specifically focus on a specific point in space” as well as “the ability to see across a much larger spectrum than the human eye through sensors” including Lidars, infrared and others.

“The technology created and implemented in Sophia really illustrates how advanced Hanson Robotics is,” said Pascale Nini, CEO of Immervision. “Collaborating with David Hanson’s talented team, we will integrate innovative third-party computer vision technologies into Joyce and enable exciting new use cases.”

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