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Student Wins First Place in Robotics Competition
For release: July 21, 2005
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University of Memphis doctoral student Andrew Olney won first place in the freestyle robot competition at the 20 th Annual National Conference of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-05) held last week in Pittsburg, PA.

Olney won in the open interaction division for his work developing the software for the Philip K. Dick robot. The robotic likeness of the late science fiction author portrays Dick in both form and intellect through an artificial-intelligence-driven personality. Developed in connection with Hanson Robotics, the robot uses the world's best expressive robot hardware, natural language artificial intelligence and machine vision. The hardware manipulates Hanson Robotics' proprietary lifelike skin material to create extremely realistic expressions with very low power. Cameras in the eyes allow the robot to track faces and recognize people.

The visual data is fused with speech recognition, advanced natural language processing and speech synthesis software. All of this runs in sync with the highly expressive robot face to emulate a full human-conversational system.

Olney and researchers at the University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology developed the software which enables the robot to hear, interpret and respond to individuals speaking to it or asking it questions. Researchers at the FedEx Institute of Technology are world renowned for their work developing computer agents that respond to human conversation and commands such as AutoTutor and IDA.

AAAI conferences promote research among AI researchers, practitioners, scientists and engineers in related disciplines. The conference provides a forum for a broad range of topics, including knowledge representation and automated reasoning, planning, machine learning and data mining, autonomous agents, robotics and machine perception, probabilistic inference, constraint satisfaction, search and game playing, natural language processing, neural networks, multi-agent systems, computational game theory and cognitive modeling.

The University of Memphis FedEx Institute of Technology is a state-of-the-art research facility. Resident researchers and students are studying artificial intelligence, robotics, multimedia communications, business networks and supply chains and work space planning. With support from its Partner Network of business, research and government organizations, the Institute identifies and invests in the development of new ideas, approaches and technologies in three priority areas:  learning technologies, business network and supply chain tools and biomedical/biosensor technologies.

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