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Entering The New Age Of The Android
By James Donahue

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 Cultural Center.


 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.