Have you met Shalu before?
Let me introduce you to her. Shalu is pretty social – she can shake hands with others and express emotions. She can crack jokes to make others laugh. And would you believe that she can converse with others in 47 languages!
But that’s not all. She can help you with the weather of a specific place. She can also help you cook by telling you the recipes of some dishes. She can also solve mathematical problems and conduct general knowledge quizzes!
Doesn’t she seem interesting? But who is Shalu?
It is a social humanoid robot!
Its creator is Dinesh Patel, a computer science teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai. The most remarkable aspect about Shalu is that she has been created entirely out of waste material such as plastic, aluminum, and cardboard that have initially been discarded.
Patel said that he was inspired to create Shalu when he learned about Sophia, the social humanoid created by the Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics in 2014. However, Patel gave Shalu some enhanced features. While Sophia is merely a social humanoid, Shalu is a social and educational humanoid, created with a purpose to teach others.
“Sophia is a general talking robot. But I planned my robot to be a social and educational humanoid. Meaning, it can work as a teacher but can also perform general talk with humans. So she can give a general talk like Sophia but can also teach students. It has knowledge too of a range of subjects,” Patel said.
Patel was able to create Shalu with three years of relentless work. And he admits that there is more work to do.
Patel said, “It took me three years to develop Shalu but it is still not complete. The process is still going on. It is just a prototype. Yes, I can say that it is enough to show what I had initially thought. Most of that is done. But ‘what I’m thinking that is done?’ then, ‘No’”
What is astounding is that this teacher spent only his nights creating Shalu as he had a full-time job to do during the day.
“I never found the time during the day because I am a teacher and most of my time is spent with my students. So all the time that gave towards developing ‘Shalu’ was at night. I used to sit at night after having dinner around 10 PM then used to sit till 2, 3 or 4 AM until I felt it was enough or I thought it would make it difficult to wake up the next day. Then I used to sleep. But always worked in my room at night,” he added.
Isn’t this just wonderful? Let us know what you think about Shalu in the comments section below.