Robot guides with uncannily lifelike characteristics are put to work showing visitors around science museum in Tokyo.
She has long brown hair, twitches her eyebrows, sways her heads from side to side and uses her hands for emphasis.
But despite her realistic appearance, she is in fact a hi-tech robot – “working” at a Tokyo museum as a humanoid guide for visitors.
The human-like robot, known as Otonaroid, is one of two life-size creations who enjoyed their first day of “work” on Wednesday at Tokyo’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
The robots, created by a leading robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, are designed to be as lifelike as possible, from their smooth silicon skin to their eloquent articulation.
The purpose of the humanoids, which were unveiled at the start of a major new permanent exhibition showcasing cutting-edge robotics, was to encourage interaction between humans and robots and explore what differentiates the two.
The first robot Otonaroid, who was “hired” by the museum as a robot science communicator, has long, dark hair and elegant mannerisms, and will be able to converse directly with visitors.
The second robot is called Kodomoroid, resembling more child than adult, and was created to read news reports covering an array of global issues in a variety of voices and languages.
“A child is vulnerable and is also a symbol of the future of the earth,” the museum explained. “Kodomoroid, with its close resemblance to a human child and detached voice, continuously recites world news. It is a work of art of sorts which asks profound questions about humanity’s future.”
In a demonstration before the exhibition opened on Wednesday, the robots, operated by remote control, moved their lips in time to a voiceover while moving their hands and swaying their heads for emphasis.
Japan has long been synonymous with a cutting-edge robotics industry, which is increasingly being adapted to assist a society in a state of rapid transformation due to its ageing population.
The new humanoid robots were unveiled just days after Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, expressed his hopes to stage a Robot Olympics alongside its 2020 Summer Games to help revitalise the economy.
A humanoid robot called “Pepper” whose makers claim it can understand human emotion was also unveiled earlier this month by SoftBank, the major mobile phone company.