Friday, June 10, 2005

Humanoid Android Mimics Human Appearance/Motion

Developed by researchers at Osaka University, Repliee Q1 is a the second of a pair of robots designed to mimic the appearance and motion of humans.

Covered in a silicone skin which closely mimics the appearance and flexibility of human skin, the android appears eerily lifelike. Once you see it moving, however, the illusion is quickly dispelled.

Repliee Q1 (pictured left) and Repliee R1, based on the look of a 5-year old girl, are designed as test beds to study human-machine interaction. The researchers felt that making the machines' as similar as possible to living people would help make people more comfortable with them, but I have to wonder if the effort was wasted, since as the researchers admit that as verisimilitude is approached the level of comfort drops precipitously.

It might have been more successful to simply create analogs of emotive features such as the eyes, brows, and mouth and concentrate on the interaction not the physical expression.

Repliee R1 is serving as a tour guide at a booth in the Aichi Prototype Robot Pavilion this summer.