Japanese robot mannequin to make catwalk debut

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A new walking and talking Japanese robot has a feminine face that can smile and was reduced to 43 kilograms (95 pounds) to debut at a fashion show. But he hasn’t even crossed the safety standards yet to share the podium with human role models.

Developers at the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a government-backed organization, said their “cybernetic human”, shown on Monday, was not ready to help with daily chores or work side-by-side with people – because robotics was billed to do in the future.

“Technologically, it hasn’t reached that level,” said Hirohisa Hirukawa, one of the robot’s developers. “Even as a model, people in the industry told us that she was short and had a rather ordinary figure.”

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Entertaining and attracting crowds are the main focus of the 158-centimeter (62.2-inch) tall black-haired robot named HRP-4C, whose predecessor weighed 58 kilograms (128 pounds).

The developers said the robot could be used in amusement parks, attention-grabbing events, and human movement simulations such as an exercise instructor.

HRP-4C was designed to look like an average Japanese woman, although her silvery and black body gives the impression of wearing a spacesuit. He will appear in a fashion show in Tokyo, albeit without clothes, in a special section just for the robot next week.

The HRP-4C’s robotic frame without the face and other facings will go on sale for around 20 million yen ($ 200,000) each, and its programming technology will be made public so that other people can come up with fun movements. for the robot, the scientists said.

Japan has one of the world’s leading robotics industries, and the government is striving to develop the industry as a growth path. Car maker Honda Motor Co. developed Asimo, which can walk and talk, although it doesn’t pretend to look human.

Other robots, like those of Hiroshi Kobayashi at Tokyo University of Science and Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University, have more human faces and have been tested as receptionists.

But demands are increasing for socially useful robots, such as those that care for the elderly and the sick, said Yoshihiro Kaga, a government official at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

“We want this market to develop as an industry,” he said.

The robot shown on Monday has 30 motors in its body that allow it to walk and move its arms as well as eight motors on its face to create expressions like anger and surprise.

At a protest for journalists, the robot waddled, blinking, much like an animated figure coming to life, and said, “Hello everyone,” in a tiny female voice. while his mouth moved.

Its operation was not perfect. He kept looking surprised, opening his mouth and eyes in amazement, when the protester asked him to smile or look angry.

Her walk wasn’t quite ready for the Paris Collection either, in part because she has to keep her knees bent all the time. He has sensors in his feet but doesn’t have the sensitive balance of a real human.

The big challenge in creating the HRP-4C was to make the pieces small so that they appear feminine, especially its slimmer legs, said Shuuji Kajita, who heads the institute’s humanoid research group.

“But this is only the first step,” he said.

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