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Wednesday 20 August 2014

Prize for stand-up comic robot snap

Published 31/03/2014 | 08:12

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Human vs Robot, by Toby Harris, a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London's Cognitive Science Research Group, which was honoured in the national science photography competition organised by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

Have you heard the one about the stand-up comic robot which won a science photography prize?

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An image of a robot performing a comedy routine in front of an audience has won the first Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) photographic competition.

The show by Robo Thespian was part of a study called Comedy Lab: Human vs Robot, by Toby Harris, a PhD student at Queen Mary University of London.

The performance at London's Barbican Centre alongside comics Tiernan Douieb and Andrew O'Neill won the competition for photographs that demonstrate science in action.

Mr Harris, from QML's cognitive science research group, used the robot alongside live comedians in a series of settings to research performer-audience interaction.

Mr Harris said he was thrilled to have won, and added: "This ground-breaking research is helping us to understand both what makes for a great performance and what makes for a compelling audience experience.

"We use new technologies to analyse people's moment-by-moment responses, so while teaching a robot stagecraft was fun, it was the ability to read and react to the audience that made it work."

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