The "world’s most advanced human-shaped robot" has been unveiled in a video released by UK robotics company Engineered Arts, and it is absolutely incredible. Named Ameca, the robot shows off a number of facial expressions that are some of the most convincing to date, complete with synthetic muscle movements and fine motor controls that previously only humans could replicate.
Ameca is currently a test platform for innovation of expressions, but the vision is to couple the robot form with an onboard AI, so it can interact and respond to the person talking to it, and can even recognize their facial expressions too. The humanoid was designed as an open platform to develop software and upgrade hardware, and provide an "alternative interface" with the digital world that isn’t just a screen.
“Instead of looking at screens and typing on keyboards we should be able to communicate with our technology in more human ways – machines should understand a smile, a head movement, or a hand gesture,” writes Engineered Arts in an email to IFLScience.
“Robots need faces and hands for communication with us – because it's so much more natural and easy to understand.”
And we know what you’re thinking – yes, this looks remarkably like Terminator or iRobot. However, the company states that you should not be worried of humanoid robots, as they are the "worst at killing people", and you should instead turn your worries to the automated drones that are already assassinating people entirely autonomously. They might have a point.
Instead, Ameca could one day be positioned as a front-of-house robotic employee, or interact with guests at an event. While work is ongoing and will continue for the foreseeable future, the Ameca iteration in the video is now available for sale and event rental.
When Ameca was released to the world, there was certainly a mixed reaction. Some expressed awe and were impressed by how convincing the facial expressions were, while others became incredibly uncomfortable.
Another Twitter user wrote “Nope. Shut it the f*** down. NOW.”
But Engineered Arts aren’t stopping there – Ameca is just one of several different robots they produce, for a variety of tasks. Mesmer is able to mimic your movements with impressive accuracy; Quinn is a talking head designed to handle customers professionally; Robothespian is a multilingual, customisable robot to charm customers at an event. The team even creates custom robots for movies.