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Honda's HEARBO robot can separate and locate four sound sources at once (video)

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Robots are already adept at all manner of things, from hunting to feeling, but over at Honda's Research Institute, one team is focused on an ability bots aren't so hot at yet -- hearing. Puny humans can quickly deduce the direction of a sound and assess its significance, while also ignoring unimportant background noise. Honda is trying to replicate these traits with HEARBO, a robot with eight microphones hidden in its head. Using its HARK software system, HEARBO can distinguish between and locate the position of up to four unique sound sources simultaneously to within one degree of accuracy. It can also filter out din generated by its own 17 motors with a method called "ego-noise suppression." HEARBO's sound localization skills are shown in the first video below, while the second proves it can beat match, dance poorly, and isolate voice commands when music is playing and motors are whirring. The overall goal of Honda's efforts is to generally advance intelligent speech and sound recognition technology. We can't help but wonder, however, if bots will just end up using it to pinpoint our screams when the inevitable occurs.

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