Robot Look Alikes Go On Sale in Japan (Video)

Want your own actroid?  Just two are going on sale in Japan.
Want your own actroid? Just two are going on sale in Japan.

It may be years before you can purchase a genetic clone of yourself, but robotic ones are already on sale in Japan. Department store giant Sogo & Seibu are accepting pre-orders this month for Actroids, the realistic robot doppelgangers from Kokoro. According to IT Media each Actroid will be custom built to mimic the face, body, movements, and speech of the purchaser. Only two orders will be filled, if there are more than that requested, a drawing will determine who gets to purchase the robots. Though at the steep price tag around 20 million Yen (~$220k), it’s unlikely that will be the case. While the robotic replicants Kokoro has made so far have been solely used for entertainment, it may only be a matter of years before realistic replacements could be found in every industry from military to medicine. Check out the DER2 model in a video after the break.

Actroids are the brainchild of robotics engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro at Osaka University. The robot has face, body, hair, eye, and eyelashes modeled on the original. Actroids can also mimic the upper body and facial movements of humans, and can replay recorded speech. These robots are a regular on the robot demonstration circuit and are always played up by the media (we couldn’t help but mention them in our iREX 2009 coverage). As with other replicant robots, I can’t help but get a little creeped out by the life-like but not quite life-like enough quality to these creations. Still, if engineers are marching robots at a steady pace down into the Uncanny Valley, it should only be a matter of time until they start climbing out of it on the other side. As humans, we all get lonely. Looks like we’ll one day be able to build our own companions. In the meantime, what could be a better addition to your home or office than a 20 million Yen robotic copy of yourself that’s guaranteed to frighten children?

[photo credit: Pink Tentacle]

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