A robot which can understand why humans behave the way they do has been created by scientists at the University of Illinois.
Dubbed the “psychic robot” by its creators, it uses a mathematical algorithm to “see” the intention behind even the most simple act, such as lifting your arm to reach out for a cup of tea.
And it will know what you meant to do even if you are interrupted halfway through. More details are published in the journal Plos One.
Justin Horowitz, one of the researchers involved in the robot's development, explained:
If you know how someone is moving and what the disturbance is, you can tell the underlying intent, which means we could use this algorithm to design machines.
It might sound like yet another terrifying development in the humanisation of machines, but actually this discovery has the potential to make significant improvements to our lives – it could steer a car back on track if a driver swerves on ice, for example, or help a stroke patient carry out the actions they find so difficult to do on their own.
"The computer has extra sensors and processes information so much faster than I can react," Horowitz said. "If the car can tell where I mean to go, it can drive itself there."