Today marked the closing day of the 2011 International Robot Exhibition, held from November 9 – 12 at the Tokyo Big Site convention center.
Nearly 300 companies were present at the exhibition, making it the largest of its kind.
While many of the robots at the exhibition were for manufacturing and industry, there were also a number of service robots on display. Service robots are, generally speaking, designed to assist humans with tasks normally performed by other humans, such as cleaning (think Roomba), and have been growing in demand in recent years.
This year’s exhibit showed that in the field of service robots, the Japanese have come a long way in developing robots that trade out the mechanical look for a more warm and comforting appearance.
Perhaps the most impressive—and certainly the cutest—of such robots on display at the show was HRP-4C “Miimu”, a lifelike female humanoid robot that can sing and dance.
This “cybernetic human” was created by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and is capable of a number of human-like movements. It can also interact with humans via speech recognition and sings using the Vocaloid voice synthesizing software.
Miimu’s physical appearance is modeled on the average figure of a young Japanese female, measuring 158 cm tall and weighing 43 kg – including a battery pack.
Her face is also capable of forming a number of different expressions, and the soft movements of her plump cheeks and mouth as she sings are surprisingly lifelike.
Miimu has already appeared at a number of public events, including a fashion show in 2009 and a live performance at the 2010 Digital Content Expo in Tokyo.
According to the AIST website, HRP-4C is still undergoing development with hopes of using the technology in the entertainment industry.
While we’re not sure if Miimu has enough talent to replace human entertainers, we’re looking forward to seeing where this technology goes.