Tokyo Science Museum ‘Hires’ Humanoid Robots

Otonaroid will speak directly with visitors, while Kodomoroid reads news reports.

Photo Caption: The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Japan has added humanoid robots to its staff.

Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro has been creating humanoid robots for years, and his latest creations might be the most humanlike.
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Japan has added humanoid robots to its staff to show visitors around the science museum in Tokyo.

Otonaroid is working a “science communicator” and will speak directly with visitors. Kodomoroid is a “broadcaster” that read news reports.

According to the Huffington Post, “Kodomoroid read the news without stumbling once and recited complex tongue-twisters glibly.” However, there were some glitches with Otonaroid as it stayed “silent twice when asked to introduce itself.”

The purpose of the humanoids, which were designed to look as humanlike as possible with their smooth silicon skin and eloquent articulation, is to encourage interaction between humans and robots and explore what differentiates the two.

“Making androids is about exploring what it means to be human,” Ishiguro told reporters, “examining the question of what is emotion, what is awareness, what is thinking.”

Engadget got up close and personal and has a slew of photos of the humanoids. “The child robot remains half-hidden behind its desk, but the adult one is on full show: Her hands fidget; she blinks; she looks around; she even bows when she needs to. Both robots are utilizing information from outside their own remit. With the newscaster, she’s parsing existing news, even if the pronunciation is pretty spot-on, and we’re told that in the near-future, she’ll do it in multiple voices—and languages. She’s setting up her broadcast residence within the Miraikan, and will give visitors news reports and weather forecasts throughout the day.


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