Tech Transformers

Want your robot to be Taylor Swift? Google can help

Ever fancied your own robot butler? How about a Taylor Swift automaton? Well Google might have the answer.

Google was granted a patent on Tuesday that could see it develop downloadable personalities for robots, such as your favorite "celebrity" or even a "deceased loved one," according to the filing.

Just as you would download an app, Google's patent outlines how a user could download actions and personalities.

The robot would also use information from a person's mobile devices such a calendar information, emails, texts messages, call logs, internet browsing history, and even someone's TV viewing schedule, to determine a personality to take on that would suit the user.


Google's robot could even be able to take on the persona of real people, living or dead.

"The robot may be programmed to take on the personality of real-world people (e.g., behave based on the user, a deceased loved one, a celebrity and so on) so as to take on character traits of people to be emulated by a robot," the United States Patent and Trademark Office filing said.

Cook and singing

Google lists a number of examples in the patent where the robot can learn human behavior and adapt. In one example, the robot could recognize the user's alarm going off in the morning and determine from prior data that the user is not a morning person, and "map to the user's mood for 'need coffee.'"

In another example, the robot could tell it is raining outside and know the user is grumpy when it rains. "The user-profile may be for the robot to then perform uplifting tunes from 'Annie'," according to the patent which was originally filed on April 30, 2012. It may also take on the persona of a butler and offer an umbrella to the user or suggest clothing options based on the weather.

Users will also be able to interact with the robot and tell it off if it has done something wrong. For example, the robot may prepare food for the user using peanut oil, but the user may be allergic to this. The user could "scold the robot" for cooking with peanut oil and the robot will know not to do this again. This will cause a permanent modification in the machine's personality.

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The robot could also have multiple personalities depending on what user it is interacting with, much like different profiles on a computer. Personality profiles would also be able to be saved and downloaded on another robot.

'Makes sense'

This is not Google's first foray into robots. Google-owned Boston Dynamics showed off a video of a robot dog in February. Tech companies take out thousands of patents a year, very few of which ever make it off the drawing board.

So-called machine learning, where robots can learn and adapt behaviour, is not new and something Google has used already in some of its software. While this may seem like a random patent, analysts said it makes sense for Google to pursue this.

"It makes sense if you are going to have robots to have them personalized and Google already does a lot of this in the services it offers. It makes perfect sense to have the technology to do it for robots," Martin Garner, senior vice president at CCS Insight, told CNBC by phone.