Robot engineers at Cornwall-based Engineered Arts have unveiled a remarkably human-like android, named “Ameca.”
A short promo video released by the company shows Ameca seemingly “waking up,” looking at its hands and then towards the camera. The 40-second clip has racked up well over 10 million views online since Engineered Arts released it earlier this week.
Ameca has grey-coloured skin, with deliberately gender- and race-neutral characteristics. The company describes it as the “world’s most advanced human shaped robot representing the forefront of human-robotics technology.”
“The reason for making a robot that looks like a person is to interact with people. The human face is a very high bandwidth communication tool, and that’s why we built these expressive robots,” Engineered Arts founder Will Jackson told Reuters.
He added: “We’ve tried to be gender-neutral, race neutral. We’re just trying to make something that has the basic human characteristics — expression — without putting anything else on top of that. So, hence the grey faces. It’s really been 15 years in gestation.”
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Engineered Arts designs and manufactures humanoid entertainment robots for science centres, theme parks and businesses. Ameca is now available for purchase or rental, though Jackson believes it is the perfect test-platform for artificial intelligence (AI).
“A lot of people working on AI interaction, all kinds of new apps that are using vision systems, segmentation, face recognition, speech recognition, voice synthesis. But what you don’t see is the hardware to run all that software on. So what we’re trying to provide is a platform for AI,” Jackson said.
“And a lot of communication is not verbal,” he continued. “So it’s not all about speech, it’s about expression, it’s about gestures: a simple move like that can mean a thousand words. The robot doesn’t have to say anything. So, the last thing we wanted to make was a robot that says, ‘please repeat the question.’
So it’s about trying to do natural human interaction. So imagine: there’s been a lot of talk about metaverses recently: imagine taking your metaverse character out into the real world. You need some embodiment for that. So, you wanted to take your virtual self to a meeting in New York, Hawaii, Hong Kong. Send a robot.”
He added that a robot like Ameca costs more than US$133,000 (CDN$170,000) to buy.