A Robot with Pigtails? What Next, Japan?

Illustration for article titled A Robot with Pigtails? What Next, Japan?

The creepiest — or most exciting — thing you will see on YouTube today is this new video of the Repliee R-1, an android that just went for its first spin at the 2008 CEATEC Exhibition in Japan. Based on an actual five-year-old girl, this robot can speak, wave, walk, pick things up, and even sense when other objects touch its skin. And I'm having trouble not referring to it as "she," which should tell you how eerie the resemblance is between the Repliee R-1 and a physical human girl.The Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University, led by Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, has been working on lifelike robots, called "actroids," for several years; their first prototype went public in November 2003. The childlike Repliee R-1 has 50 sensors inside its body, and its silicon skin was formed from a mold of a human girl. I wonder what that girl thinks of her actroid twin:

The Repliee R-1's words are barely intelligible, but I thought I caught it saying "itai" — Japanese for "hurt." So much for avoiding the disturbing moral implications of super-realistic androids. It's also a shame that the editors of this video couldn't spell "sensors" properly — I don't think putting this robot in a room with 50 señors is necessarily a good idea. Repliee Robot Makes Me Scream and Cry Like a Little Girl [Gizmodo] Intelligent Robotics Laboratory [Osaka University] Image from DVICE.

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The soundtrack for this clip is what really freaks me out, man. The robot and the tech might be really cool, but I can't even tell - and I'm too busy being afraid something's gonna pop of out its skin.