The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), an independent administrative institution, has developed a speech recognition function in real environment using an array of microphones, successfully extending the sensing capability of humanoid robot under the Humanoid Robotic Project HRP-2 "Prométhée". The microphone array consists of eight omnidirectional microphones mounted around the robot's head (Fig. 1 left). The sound source is located on the basis of difference in times for arrival to individual microphones, and at the same time, a camera mounted at the robot's head detects, tracks and locates a person giving the vocal instruction. Stable speech recognition is obtained by combining information derived from the microphone array and the camera and by isolating and eliminating noises. Hardware to eliminate noises in real time has been developed and built into a robot, making it possible for a human operator to give robot vocal instructions, and to control IT appliances through a robot, even in a field where multiple noise sources such as TV exist.
It is expected, therefore, that natural communications may be realized in the living environment between a human operator and a humanoid robot through the auditory function of robot.
The present study has been carried out as a part of AIST Project "Development of Humanoid Robot Type Intelligence Booster Platform" (fiscal years 2003-05).