Latest Geminoid Is Incredibly Realistic

Geminoid DK is a realistic android nearly indistinguishable from a real human

2 min read
Geminoid DK
Photo: Geminoid DK Project

Okay, I’ll admit it... I found myself wondering whether this was in fact a real robot, or actually a person pretending to be a robot.

It's not a fake. This is the latest iteration of the Geminoid series of ultra-realistic androids, from Japanese firm Kokoro and Osaka University roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro. Specifically, this is Geminoid DK, which was constructed to look exactly like associate professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University in Denmark.

UPDATE: We've just found a new video that is absolutely amazing:

When we contacted Prof. Scharfe inquiring about the android, he confirmed: "No, it is not a hoax," adding that he and colleagues in Denmark and Japan have been working on the project for about a year now. His Geminoid, which cost some US $200,000, was built by Kokoro in Tokyo and is now at Japan's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) in Nara for setup and testing.

"In a couple of weeks I will go back to Japan to participate in the experiments," he says. "After that, the robot is shipped to Denmark to inhabit a newly designed lab."

Geminoid DK does look pretty much exactly like the original template:

Geminoid DK

The Geminoid is on the right. I think.

geminoid hi-1 geminoid f

If you're wondering why on Earth someone would want an exact robotic double of themselves, besides being TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY AWESOME, the Geminoid is going to be used for studying human-robot interaction, in particular people's emotional responses when they face an android representing another person. Prof. Scharfe wants to find out if the robot can transmit a person's "presence" to a remote location and whether cultural differences in people's acceptance of robots make a difference.

These are some of the same questions that Hiroshi Ishiguro set out to explore when he created his robot clone, the Geminoid HI-1, and a copy of a twentysomething Japanese model, the Geminoid F [see photos, right].

For his part, Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University and group leader at ATR, declined to give us more details about his involvement with the Geminoid DK project, saying only that he and Scharfe "are working together."

Like with the other Geminoid robots, 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.

But it's not hard to imagine full autonomy in the not-to-distant future.

Incidentally, according to a note on his website here's what Prof. Scharfe's wife thinks about his robotic double:

- She prefers body number 1

- She suggests that he should always send body number 2 to conferences and stuff

Prefers body number 1, eh? Does she know that body number 2 is upgradeable?

Here's another video and more (freaky) pics of Geminoid DK in the making to fuel your nightmares, enjoy:

geminoid dk

geminoid dk

Images and videos: Geminoid DK Project

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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