This study employs a novel 3D engineered robotic eye system with dielectric elastomer actuator (DEA) pupils and a 3D sculpted and colourised gelatin iris membrane to replicate the appearance and materiality of the human eye. A camera system for facial expression analysis (FEA) was installed in the left eye, and a photo-resistor for measuring light frequencies in the right. Unlike previous prototypes, this configuration permits the robotic eyes to respond to both light and emotion proximal to a human eye. A series of experiments were undertaken using a pupil tracking headset to monitor test subjects when observing positive and negative video stimuli. A second test measured pupil dilation ranges to high and low light frequencies using a high-powered artificial light. This data was converted into a series of algorithms for servomotor triangulation to control the photosensitive and emotive pupil dilation sequences. The robotic eyes were evaluated against the pupillometric data and video feeds of the human eyes to determine operational accuracy. Finally, the dilating robotic eye system was installed in a realistic humanoid robot (RHR) and comparatively evaluated in a human-robot interaction (HRI) experiment. The results of this study show that the robotic eyes can emulate the average pupil reflex of the human eye under typical light conditions and to positive and negative emotive stimuli. However, the results of the HRI experiment indicate that replicating natural eye contact behaviour was more significant than emulating pupil dilation.
Strathearn, C. (2021). Artificial Eyes with Emotion and Light Responsive Pupils for Realistic Humanoid Robots. Informatics, 8(4), Article 64. https://doi.org/10.3390/informatics8040064