Ópera, the Colombian social robot, prepares to compete in Australia

Ópera, the colombian social robot, prepares to compete in australia
Ópera, the colombian social robot, prepares to compete in australia

Contxto – Ópera, one of Colombia’s most advanced robots allegedly capable of recognizing human emotions, will be competing in RoboCup 2019 in Sydney, Australia from July 2 to July 8.

In Summary

Sinfonía, Ópera, Sónata, Lírica and Lied are four robot prototypes developed in a partnership between Bancolombia and three Colombian universities. These institutions include Universidad del Magdalena, Universidad de los Andes and Universidad Santo Tomás.

Thanks to their advanced algorithms reportedly capable of recognizing human emotions, the robots were eligible to participate in RoboCup this year. Special features allow the machines to use emotions as references, act accordingly, and even engage and guide social interactions. For instance, our mechatronic friends have the ability to be master of ceremonies at events.

Ópera will go to Australia to compete in the “Home” category. Judges will evaluate robots’ ability to manipulate and maneuver arms, hold objects, as well as identify, interact, engage and communicate with humans.

Source: Universidad del Magdalena’s Facebook Page


“We are going to interact in a category that is facing household issues related to everyday activities,” said Bancolombia Innovation leader, Cipriano López. Regarding the robots, he hopes that they “become a complement to day-to-day activities.”

A total of 22 professors and students from partnering universities will join Ópera on its trip to the Outback. According to one of the professors involved in its research and development, Carlos Quintero from Universidad de Los Andes, more research is already in the works.

Specifically, the goal is to ensure that the algorithm processes data in new ways and for different types of applications. With this in mind, they aim to make robots smarter. That’s to say, they want to enable robots to recognize objects, faces and learn from human-to-robot experience.

“The training we are going to have to give our students in ethics and values is going to be very important,” said López. “If we program the robots badly, what can happen is indecipherable.”

According to Silvia Restrepo, Vice Chancellor of Research and Development from the Universidad de Los Andes, AI should be created with population needs in mind. In turn, this will encourage the creation of these technologies and the production of robots in the country.

“We are exploring applications for artificial intelligence that is the assistant robots and the main objective of these is to improve well-being and improve the quality of life in different environments,” she said.

Both public and private entities agree that AI intelligence will help the overall development of Colombian society.

“We must help social transformation,” said Restrepo. “I believe that this country and the world need spaces like this, alliances between the public and the private to make life easier for people through technology.”

Emotion recognition will add a less obvious, although more intangible variable, for robots when it comes to making decisions. This is both potentially dangerous yet encouraging all the same. In the end, it all comes down to programming and the creator’s moral standards behind its development.


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