Robot model makes a runway appearance at the Tokyo fashion week
The audience at the Tokyo fashion week witnessed an unconventional model take to the runway. The HRP-4C humanoid robot dressed in black and silver appeared on the stage, bowed to the audience and made a brief speech with her facial features moving in uncannily realistic ways (watch the video to see what I mean). The robot’s stagger was a far cry from a real model’s walk, but her creators estimate it will take another 20-30 years to even out the differences between electronic and real models. For now, the only object of envy for the real runway models would be the robot model's weight, which is a mere 95 lb.
The HRP-4C humanoid robot showed off her stormtrooper-like silver and black frame and bowed to a fashion-savvy audience at the start of the annual Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo -- but even her creators admit the mechanical model needs more work.
The HRP-4C has battery-powered motors in her body and face, allowing her to imitate the expressions, gait and poses of a supermodel --- up to a point.
"Our robot can't move elegantly like the real models that are here today," Shuji Kajita, director of humanoid robot engineering at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), told Reuters. "It'll take another 20 to 30 years of research to make that happen."
The 158 cm (5 ft 2 inch) high-tech model weighed in at 43 kg (95 lb), slimmed down from earlier versions just in time for her catwalk debut at one of Japan's biggest fashion events.
AIST designers say the eyes, face and hair of the robot, which cost about $2 million to develop, are based on Japanese "anime" cartoon characters.
Japan, home to almost half of the world's 800,000 industrial robots, expects the industry to expand to $10 billion in the future including models that can care for its fast-growing elderly population.