Researchers from the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University have teamed up with robot maker Kokoro Co., Ltd. to create a realistic-looking remote-control female android that mimics the facial expressions and speech of a human operator.
Modeled after a woman in her twenties, the android -- called Geminoid F (the "F" stands for female) -- has long black hair, soft silicone skin, and a set of lifelike teeth that allow her to produce a natural smile.
According to the developers, the robot's friendly and approachable appearance makes her suitable for receptionist work at sites such as museums. The researchers also plan to test her ability to put hospital patients at ease.
The research is being led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is known for creating teleoperated robot twins such as the celebrated Geminoid HI-1, which was modeled after himself.
The new Geminoid F can produce facial expressions more naturally than its predecessors -- and it does so with a much more efficient design. While the previous Geminoid HI-1 model was equipped with 46 pneumatic actuators, the Geminoid F uses only 12.
In addition, the entire air servo control system is housed within the robot's body and is powered by a small external compressor that runs on standard household electricity.
Geminoid F and her human counterpart, wearing outfits by fashion designer Junko Koshino
The Geminoid F's easy-to-use teleoperation system, which was developed by ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, consists of a smart camera that tracks the operator's facial movements. The corresponding data is relayed to the robot's control system, which coordinates the movement of the pneumatic actuators to reproduce the expressions on the android's face.
The efficient design makes the robot much cheaper to produce than previous models. Kokoro plans to begin selling copies of the Geminoid F next month for about 10 million yen ($110,000) each.