We have seen them in
movies, but the development of robots that are so humanoid in their appearance and actions that they can be mistaken for humans
seemed somewhat far-fetched. But never underestimate the bright and creative minds of people in the Far East.
Researchers in both South Korea and China
have made public the development of their first versions of these special robotic machines, or androids.
In fact, the Xinsong
Automation Co., in affiliation with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has begun to manufacture its version, a “personal
robot” called Liangliang, that is says can “provide services of education, entertainment and security” and
act as a personal assistant.
The android, which stands
three feet tall, can walk and navigate obstacles, and perform tasks as instructed by its owners, showed that it can answer
telephone calls and give reports as to what is going on at home.
It also will give weather
reports on demand.
The South Korean android
can’t walk, but it looks so lifelike that one might not identify it as a robot from several feet away. It is made to
look like a shapely 20-year-old Korean female and is named EveR-1, a combination of Eve and robot.
The android’s makers
say EveR-1 can hold conversations, has a vocabulary of 400 words, makes eye contact and her lips move in synchronization to
the words she is saying. She blinks with her eyes, and makes several facial expressions.
Fifteen tiny motors embedded
into her silicon face enable her to make a total of four facial expressions that reflect joy, anger, sorrow and happiness.
Her makers, headed by
Baeg Moon-hong, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology, presented the android during an exhibition
at the Seoul Education
So far, the team has only developed EveR-1 to move the upper half of her body, including her arms and hands.
But she cannot travel. They are still working on that.
To date they have spent
about $3 billion in what they have developed so far.
Baeg said the android
can already be used for such things as a guide robot at museums and department stores, or as an educational model to read
books to children.
But he sees a much more
humanoid android in the future. Within the next year Baeg says he believes this lady will be able to move around, sit down
and stand up.
After that, what will
stop us from sending androids to Mars to do the tasks we humans cannot do. Or better yet, since it is made of silicone, what
will stop us from making them so human we might move into them, replacing our deteriorating and earth-bound bodies with that
of a machine.