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Toshiba Android Will Take You For a Trip Down the ­ncanny Valley


Aiko Chihiro, a lifelike communication android.

Researchers at Toshiba, Osaka University, the Shibaura Institute of Technology, aLab Inc., and the Shonan Institute of Technology recently announced the development of a lifelike communication android named Aiko Chihiro.

Credit: Toshiba

Researchers at Toshiba, Osaka University, the Shibaura Institute of Technology, aLab Inc., and the Shonan Institute of Technology have developed Aiko Chihiro, a lifelike communication android.

Aiko uses 43 actuators to move its face and limbs, but a majority of the work is done by the servos in its arms, hands, and fingers. Aiko communicates through simple sign language, requiring articulated fingers, a detail that was often overlooked in previous robots.

The goal is to build a kind of telepresence robot that counselors and doctors can use to communicate with elderly patients suffering from dementia by 2020. However, Aiko is so lifelike it could be off-putting to users because it enters the Uncanny Valley, a concept developed by Japanese researcher Masahiro Mori stating designers should avoid creating robots whose appearances approach that of a person.

Aiko departs from Toshiba's previous assistive and communication robots, which were featureless plastic blobs with bulbous eyes.

From IEEE Spectrum
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