There’s no doubt robots are coming online in a big way—just look at Boston Dynamics’ Atlas and Spot for proof of that statement. But while those robots actually look like robots, some manufacturers are moving more in the direction of replicants, in that they’re aiming to make their robots far more humanlike. Take these new Robo-C androids from Russian robot manufacturer, Promobot, for example, which aim to duplicate the appearance of any human a buyer desires.
A look at a sheathed and unsheathed Robo-C side by side.
In a statement announcing the launch of the Robo-C androids, which comes via The New York Post, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Promobot, Aleksei Iuzhakov, said that “Everyone will now be able to order a robot with any appearance—for professional or personal use.” Iuzhakov added that these robots will tap into a huge market encompassing education, service, and entertainment, and gave use-case examples, including a robotic Michael Jordan selling basketball uniforms or a robotic Shakespeare reading his own work in a museum. (Personally, we’d like to see whalers on the Moon whom carry a harpoon.)
The tech specs for the Robo-C droids aren’t especially impressive considering the other humanoid robots that have been coming online over the last couple of years, but there’s certainly an emphasis on getting facial expressions to be as on-point as possible. Any given Robo-C is capable of 600 facial expressions, is sheathed in lifelike artificial skin, and can emulate emotions such as anger, wonder, and fear. Robo-C droids will also be able to speak 11 languages and utilize 100,000 speech modules in order to answer questions and partake in conversation.
For those who are disturbed rather than delighted by the appearance of humanlike androids, Promobot also has a Promobot line of robots (immediately above) that look like a mishmash of EVE from Wall-E and Rosie from The Jetsons. According to Promobot, these robots are already in use in 35 countries. The bots serve as concierges, promoters, guides, consultants, and administrators, and have even been deployed in IKEA stores. Price and availability seem to only be available to interested parties who contact the company, but presumably the bots ain’t cheap. Although considering how widespread the usage of Promobot’s products is already, clearly companies across the globe are ready to throw some artificial skin in the robot game.
What do you think of these Robo-C androids? Do they creep you out big time, or would you love to have these faux people helping you out wherever you go in the retail world? Generate some opinions using your speech modules in the comments!