Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, wanted to know whether it was possible to build a “tele-operated” android that could act as a replacement for a person in face-to-face meetings. To provide an answer, he constructed an eerily similar android of himself called Geminoid.
Geminoid HI-2 (shown here), not only looks like Ishiguro, but moves like him, as well. Basic parts include a plastic skull, metal skeleton and silicone skin. Movement is accomplished through the use of 50 pneumatic actuators and electric motors, powered by an air compressor, airflow control valves and a DC power source.
In all, Geminoid has 50 degrees of freedom – 13 in the head, 15 in the body, and 22 in the legs and arms. But while the humanoid bears a stunning resemblance to Ishiguro, the jury is still out on whether it can effectively replace a human.
“When I saw the static geminoid, it was like a mirror,” Ishiguro wrote in a technical paper on the subject. “However, when it naturally moved, it was not myself, although we have copied my movement.”
Still, Ishiguro’s android was good enough to capture worldwide attention, suggesting that we can expect more such efforts from him and others in the future.
(Image source: ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories)