Applied Informatics Group


A robot’s head is important both for directional sensors, and in human-directed robotics as the single most visible interaction interface. The anthropomorphic robot head “Flobi” combines state-of-the-art sensing with an exterior that elicits a sympathetic emotional response. Additionally we created a modular outer shell based on 3D-printed elements [1]. This allows to give Flobi different looks while the technic beneath stays the same. This is especially convenient when studies focus on how the robot is perceived [2]. With Flobi we can conduct basic research studies in the field of gender roles, stereotypes and perception of cultural differences.
The robot head Flobi was designed with dimensions equal to an adult human head. For this we emphazised using small hardware parts, however applying state-of-the-art technology for controlling movement. Flobi possesses two cameras placed in the eyeballs. This allows the robot to percieve its surround equally to the vision of humans. 
In total Flobi consists of 16 actuators. The robot uses 3 motors allowing the robot to make pan, tilt and roll movements for the whole head. For the eyes the robot uses 3 motors. Each eye can individiually move horizontal and jointly up and down. This allows a human like eye movement, for example to focus on elements far away or even in the near field. For facial expression Flobi can move its lips, eye lids and eyebrows. For the mouth 4 motors are used dividing the lip elements into 4 parts: left and right outer parts and 2 parts for the center upper and lower lips. For each eye 2 seperatly controlled eye lids are available, allowing movements like closing the eyes or to mimik human blinking. For the eyebrows two rotational movements are integrated, allowing each eyebrow to be rotated around a center axe. 
With alle elements combined, Flobi is capable to show basic emotions: Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Surprise and Fear.
The robotic plattform Flobi was used for several studies. By using still images and videos different gender studies were conducten, evaluating how the different designs were perceived [3]. In 2013 Flobi was applied to a long-term isolation study, in which it interacted as a companion in ones daily life. For the scenario Flobi played the game of pairs against a human player [4]
Currently we are working on stabalizing the hardware and creating an easy usable interface for designing and implementing behaviors and interactions for studies. Also Flobi is part in the Cognitive Service Robotics Appartment (CSRA).

Related Publications

  1. 2010 | Conference Paper | PUB-ID: 1991980
    The Bielefeld Anthropomorphic Robot Head "Flobi"
    Lütkebohle I, Hegel F, Schulz S, Hackel M, Wrede B, Wachsmuth S, Sagerer G (2010)
    In: 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. IEEE: 3384-3391.
  2. 2010 | Conference Paper | PUB-ID: 1993179
    The Social Robot Flobi: Key Concepts of Industrial Design
    Hegel F, Eyssel FA, Wrede B (2010)
    In: Proceedings of the 19th IEEE International Symposium in Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN 2010). 120-125.
  3. 2012 | Journal Article | PUB-ID: 1993157
    (S)he's got the look: Gender-stereotyping of social robots
    Eyssel FA, Hegel F (2012)
    Journal of Applied Social Psychology 42(3): 2213-2230.
    PUB | DOI | WoS