Apparently sick and tired of always being told their robots look creepy, Prof. Hiroshi Ishiguro and the researchers at ATR have designed the freakiest robot ever to help put the others in perspective. Telenoid R1, a telepresence android fit for a circus freak show, was co-developed by ATR with Eager Co. Ltd., which had already created a telepresence software called AvatarNT. As with their recent baby robots, Vstone provided the actuators.
In all the robot measures 80cm (31″), weighs 5kg (11 lbs), and is able to move its eyes, open its mouth, tilt its head both horizontally and vertically, and wriggle its stubby limbs (9 actuators). Its ghoulish design is a reflection of its purpose, which is to establish presence with minimal expressiveness and movement. Prof. Ishiguro’s Geminoids could be used the same way, however those are designed to look like a single individual. It is argued that the Telenoid’s simplistic features could allow multiple users (male or female, of any age) to control the robot.
A user’s facial expressions are transmitted to the robot through software called FaceAPI, which tracks the eyes, mouth, and tilt of the head. Perhaps a bit optimistically, they expect to sell at least 10 units for 3,000,000 JPY apiece (approx. $35,000 USD) this October. By the end of 2011 they hope to sell around 100. A cheaper version called P1 (with fewer degrees of freedom) will be sold for 70,000 JPY (approx. $8,000 USD). It’s a bit lighter at only 4kg (8.8 lbs), and will have a cloth skin as opposed to the silicone skin in the more expensive version.
A couple of videos follow after the break for the curious.
Osaka University | ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories