Beginning next year, Adams State University (ASU) will offer summer internships that train students to develop emotional and social skills in robots.
ASU faculty have already developed robots who can blink, perform tai chi, obey pre-programmed commands, recognize faces, and track objects. This innovative summer program will be funded with a half-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Among the faculty members is math professor Matthew Ikle, who has been working with robots for two decades. The newly funded internship program will pay interns $15 per hour for eight full-time weeks to work alongside Ikle and his partners in developing programming that will enhance the robots' capabilities in vision, object classification, attention, and social and emotional abilities.
Students will also have their fees and travel expenses covered so they can attend the Artificial General Intelligence Conference in New York City next summer.
"Our goal is to motivate students to cut through the attitude of 'Why math?'" Ikle said. "We put a lot of thought into making this super attractive to retain students through the summer and into fall, to keep them connected and build excitement around the program."
Ikle said the program's ultimate goal is to develop robots that can interact with humans.