The term "uncanny valley," which refers to the revulsion that humans feel when they see a humanoid robot, has lately been a topic of heated discussion among design engineers, who are increasingly building robots that walk and talk.
More than ever, engineers need to consider the effects on humans as their machines begin to creep into our territory. "If you're going to make your robot human-like, then you've got to make it really, really human," said Tim Root, founder and chief technology officer of VGo Communications Inc., a robot manufacturer, in a recent interview with Design News. "If you miss that, your form factor will be rejected."
Looking at the following slides, it's easy to see how robots are evolving, not only in their ability to do human tasks, but in their appearance. Whether or not they're starting to give us the creeps is another matter, one that varies from person to person.
Click on the image below to start viewing the 16-image slideshow. When you're done, tell us what you think in the comments section below.
Heather Knight, a roboticist and founder of Marilyn Monrobots, is trying to bridge the uncanny valley by adding humor to the robotic repertoire. Her robot, Data, can do imitations of Darth Vader, R2D2, and Buzz Lightyear.
(Photo courtesy of Freescale Semiconductor.)