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Blossom: A Handmade Approach to Social Robotics From Cornell and Google

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The Blossom soft robot.

The Blossom robot is designed to be handmade out of warm natural materials like wool and wood, so every one is a little bit different.

Credit: Michael Suguitan

Researchers at Cornell University and Google are developing Blossom, a social robot built from natural materials such as cotton and wool.

Cornell's Guy Hoffman says Blossom features a flexible internal structure to give the robot a more imperfect organic feel and personality.

Hoffman notes the internal softness is made possible by striking a balance between soft actuators and customizable mechanisms.

Blossom's aesthetic is a response to the sleek design of current social robots, and it is geared to rekindle user appreciation for more traditional handcrafted artistry amidst an increasingly digital culture.

"This also makes the robot more deeply personal," Hoffman notes.

The decision to omit any facial features from the robot was made to avoid the impression that it knows all about the user.

Google's Miguel de Andres-Clavera says Blossom was conceived "to provide developers with a platform they can use to create smart social companions."

From IEEE Spectrum
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