Even though the Star Trek character “Data” was played by a human, this new android might be more life-like. Watch the video, and I think you’ll agree that it is hard to tell (at first) that this is a robot. It’s called Geminoid DK, built by the Intelligent Robotics lab at Osaka University and designed by professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. Just like Data was modeled after his creator Doctor Noonian Soong, the Geminoid DK is created in the likeness of professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University in Denmark. Not sure if it can whistle or if it remembers every fact to which it is exposed, but Geminoid DK has a better hairdo (and beard) than Data, and it can smile.
“All of the movements and expressions of Geminoid DK are remote controlled by an operator with a computer, who uses a motion-capture system that tracks facial expressions and head movements. Turn your head and the Geminoid does the same; move your mouth and the android follows suit,” IEEE Spectrum reports.
Henrik Scharfe and his look-alike, the Geminoid DK. Credit: Geminoid DK
The Geminoid is going to be used for researching “emotional affordances” in human-robot interaction, the novel notion of “blended presence,” as well as cultural differences (from different continents) in the perception of robots.
This is the third in a series of life-like robots built by Ishiguro – the first was made to look like Ishiguro himself, the second resembled a young Japanese model. Ishiguro and Sharfe are working together on this latest robot project.
Humanoid androids could have many applications in the future exploration of space. Space is a dangerous place for human beings, but the dexterity and mobility of humans is far greater than current robotic explorers. Robots that accurately replicate the capabilities of humans could be used in the exploration of other worlds, and the search for life on planets like Mars, without risking the health of human explorers themselves. Recently, the final launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery carried the first humanoid robot to orbit, where it will be put to work on the International Space Station.