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Robot Dog Has an Artificial Woof That Sounds Like the Real Thing

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Robot dog MiRo.

University of Sheffield researchers have developed a system for generating biologically fitting sounds for land mammals.

Credit: New Scientist

Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. say they have developed a vocalization synthesizer that generates biologically fitting sounds for land mammals of any size.

Sheffield's Roger Moore says the synthesizer models the key parts of a mammal's vocal system, including the lungs, larynx, and vocal tract. It then combines values for each of those features to create an acoustic wave appropriate for an animal with that vocal system.

When tasked with giving a voice to MiRo, a small robotic dog, the system produces a high-pitched yap that would likely come from a relatively small pair of lungs and a short vocal tract.

MiRo also responds to touch and sound, and the Sheffield system enables its bark to adjust to suit the interaction. For example, if MiRo is stroked, its bark gets shorter and more expressive, mimicking the change in airflow to the lungs of a happy, excited dog.

From New Scientist
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