Dr. Movellan at UCSD’s Machine Perception Lab has provided a preview image of Diego-san’s new head (which is being designed by Hanson Robotics), and they’re interested in your opinions (so leave comments – constructive criticism is best). Though this is not necessarily the final version, they feel they are getting close. The body will be made of a translucent gray material, but it is still being worked on (which is why it is not pictured). The finished robot will likely be demonstrated around November 10th (for now, you can read our interview to learn more about the project).
Of course, this being a computer rendering it is hard to compare it to the original, because the materials won’t look quite the same in reality. I think having the transparent bulb part where you can see some of the mechanisms, and the antennae, give the robot an almost cartoony feeling (something like Astro Boy or a super hero). This effect will be enhanced when it gets its translucent body – which I’m guessing will allow you to make out some of the internal mechanisms as well. It adds a bit of whimsy which may help to diminish the uncanny valley, which may be their intention. I also think the face appears older than the original, which also helps.
So what do you think – are they on the right track? One thing’s for sure: realistic humanoids are without a doubt more difficult to design than the more abstract, mechanical ones.
Thanks, Dr. Movellan!