Babylon & Beyond

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Named after famed scientist, robot readied for life of mall drudgery

November 4, 2009 |  8:20 am


He has facial expressions, speaks classical Arabic and wears elegant traditional robes. 

Perfect, scientists say, for directing hungry shoppers to the food court.

Students and faculty at United Arab Emirates University in Al-Ain have created what a team at the university's lab says is the world's first Arabic-speaking socially interactive robot.

Nicholas Mavrides, a professor of computer science, said the human-like Ibn Sina, named after the Islamic philosopher and scientist commonly known in English as Avicenna, said the robot could be used as a receptionist, salesman or shopping assistant at one of the Persian Gulf's many shopping malls.

"We're very close to being able to get him to work as a receptionist or a helper in a mall," he told Agence France Presse. "If we work on it in a group of five people, we will be able to develop those skills in six months to make him ready for full operations."

-- Los Angeles Times

Photo: Karim Sahib / AFP/Getty Images