Japanese robotics experts have designed what is being hailed as the world’s most lifelike android — so realistic that ‘she’ even appears to breathe.
Rather than rigid plastic, Repliee Q1 is coated in a flexible silicon skin, which feels very similar to the real thing. Its eyes flutter and a slight rise and fall of its chest gives the impression of breathing.
According to the robot’s creator, Prof Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University, the development means scientists are closer to the day when it will be possible to build a robot that could convincingly pass as a human being.
Although at present the machine-woman can only sit, it was designed using computer analysis of human movement. A system of 31 actuators in the upper body allows the device to move with a large degree of freedom. The actuators are controlled by an air compressor which provides a damping effect to add to the robot’s lifelike movements.
High-sensitivity sensors placed under the skin allow Repliee Q1 to respond to varying degrees of pressure. The sensors use a piezoelectric element and are positioned on the brow, cheeks, shoulders and arms.
However, the robot’s unveiling at the World Expo in Japan was not as smooth as intended — a software glitch caused the android to experience spasms.