Humanoid robotics has already crossed into the uncanny valley with builds like robot poet Ai-Da. However, as companies like Tesla aim to craft commercial, household devices, there's need for more realistic humanoid robot technology.
With that in mind, UK robotics company Engineered Minds might be the next big step forward. In the company's latest YouTube video, an advanced facial robot, Ameca, shows a marked improvement over prior robot showcases.
Ameca showcases realistic humanoid robot movement
Engineered Minds’ latest robot is designed to move in extremely lifelike ways. That design purpose has been achieved. In the recent video, Ameca is shown moving far more realistically than any other robot we've seen.
The video shows the robot booting or “waking” up from shutdown. Afterwards, the robot explores newfound “consciousness”. With full slightly exaggerated lifelike facial movements, the realistic humanoid robot looks around in a scarily real way.
Ameca looks at its arm, wiggles its fingers and visually explores its surroundings with the awe of a child. Furthermore, the robot brings its hands right up to its face and examines them with very real micro-movements.
Finally, the robot becomes aware of the camera operator and smiles directly at them, also us — the viewer. In a horror movie, this would be the last thing that camera operator ever saw.
The Uncanny Valley
Ameca’s realistic facial movements aren't quite past the Uncanny Valley. While that boundary is entirely subjective, for us, the robot is resting right on the border. It looks realistic, but it looks realistic in a 2004 I, Robot kinda way.
For creating a realistic looking and moving robot, Engineered Minds is the closest yet. While it doesn't have the fleshy look of competitors, it's clean, clearly robotic materials makes it far more acceptable for many. Additionally, who doesn't want a robot buddy?