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Tsukuba University’s Uchiyama Lab has created an odd baby simulator robot called YOTARO that is designed to tug on the parental heartstrings of young Japanese couples. Japan has one of the lowest birth rates of the industrialized nations, so unlike typical self-soiling simulators designed to scare thoughts of safe-sex into the minds of teenagers, YOTARO is actually supposed to entice procreation.  YOTARO’s face is made of a soft silicon rubber that displays different facial expressions projected onto it by a projector hidden underneath.

The robot uses sensors in its rattle, stomach, and clothing to detect when it is being touched, and can react by wiggling its limbs, smiling, and crying.  A warm water tank can release water through YOTARO’s tear ducts and nostrils for added realism.  Although it doesn’t look much like a real baby, the researchers hope it can be used to educate potential parents about the joys of raising one.  A couple of videos and some more photos follow after the break.

[source: YOTARO @ Uchiyama Lab (JP)] via [Robot Shop’s blog]


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Video (Mirror):


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