Watch out, Gisele: there’s a new fashion phenom in town. Top model HRP-4C, another robotic humanoid, made her catwalk debut at a Tokyo fashion show in early 2009. At just over 5 ft. (1.5 m) tall and 95 lb. (43 kg), HRP-4C is modeled after a typical Japanese female frame. Developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, HRP-4C boasts 42 motion motors programmed to mimic the movements of real fashion models, as exhibited in her latest show for Japanese designer Yumi Katsura, to the beats of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Walk it, girl!
When you’re feeling down, why not turn to Paro, the cuddly, furry robotic baby seal? Paro, developed by Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, is modeled after a Canadian harp seal, recordings of which provide the crying noises that Paro makes while it blinks adorably at you under its long robotic eyelashes. The robot responds to petting by moving its tail and opening and closing its eyes. First exhibited to the public in 2001, Paro is said to have a calming effect on people and is intended for patients of hospitals and nursing homes. The furry invention is reportedly already in use in nursing facilities in Japan and Denmark.
3. Chef Motoman
Look out, Chef Morimoto: Chef Motoman SDA-10 is on the job. Motoman is a dual-arm robotic chef developed by Yaskawa Electric Corporation in 2007, ready to whip up some Japanese savory pancakes for anyone who asks. At 4½ ft. (1.4 m) tall and weighing about 480 lb. (220 kg), Motoman can work next to humans and even communicate with diners, reports say. Its newest model, the SDA-10, is programmed for a wider range of tasks behind the kitchen counter, on the factory floor and playing in a band.
In June 2007, researchers from Osaka University’s Graduate School of Engineering creeped the world out with their introduction of CB2, short for “Child-Robot with Biomimetic Body.” Measuring 4 ft. 3 (130 cm) long and weighing 73 lb. (33 kg), CB2 is designed to mimic the motions of a toddler. It responds to sounds and reacts to people by wiggling, changing facial expressions and making mechanical gurgling sounds. Thankfully, this one is still in the labs.
1. Sony’s QRIO
A dance ensemble made up of robots? That’s right. Sony’s QRIO — “Quest for cuRIOsity” — robots combined artificial intelligence and dynamic technologies to move, gather information and dance. At 2 ft. (0.6 m) tall and 16 lb. (7 kg) apiece, QRIO was developed to be a humanoid entertainment robot. Sadly, the dancers were given the pink slip three years after being introduced in 2003.