Robots from a galaxy far, far away tend to be stripped down, naked androids. For those of you who prefer your robots to have a little more flesh—like Star Trek‘s Data— you’ll enjoy Hanson Robotics latest humanoid robot, Han. Han is designed to be a robot that can emote, or at least can mimic human facial expressions as it carries on a somewhat stilted conversation.
If you thought the android “working” at the front desk of a Japanese department store was off-putting, the facial expressions used by Han are even creepier. Han uses a collection of 40 different facial motors to contort the “Frubber” (flesh rubber) skin into human-like expressions. According to the designers, Han can read a companions facial expressions and respond with anything from flirting with a cheeky smile to crossing its eyes and act drunk.
As for the android’s conversation skills, cameras in the robot’s chest and eyes analyze whomever the bot is talking to at the moment. Han can ascertain a companions gender and relative age, and is programmed to adjust its “social skills”, accordingly. This should prevent the robot from talking back to its elders, which will be important as Hanson Robotics plans to use Han’s technology in robots that can care for the elderly.
Han actually won’t be making it all the way to commercial production. As we know, female robots are a bit easier on the eyes, so the company plans to give Han a makeover, using the technology to create Eva, a female version of the robot.
Check out Han’s conversations skills here: