[NetBehaviour] Say hello to your robot self.

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Oct 16 19:58:54 CEST 2006

Say hello to your robot self.


KEIHANNA, JAPAN — With little more than a train station and a few 
government buildings, the sleepy town of Keihanna is a far cry from the 
dazzling celluloid cityscapes of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and Ridley 
Scott's Blade Runner. But just as in those classics of science fiction, 
futuristic robots are coming to life here -- androids that are 
astonishingly realistic, and could challenge our ideas of what we 
consider human.

Hiroshi Ishiguro is at the forefront of designing machines that look 
just like us. The senior researcher at Keihanna's ATR Intelligent 
Robotics and Communication Laboratories drew headlines around the world 
last year when he unveiled a robot that, from a few feet away, could 
easily have been mistaken for a Japanese woman.

Equipped with off-board cameras, microphones and floor sensors, Repliee 
Q1Expo can detect human presence and interview people with a microphone, 
moving its upper body in a smooth, natural fashion. All of which makes 
perfect sense, since Repliee is an android copy of Ayako Fujii, a real 

Yet Dr. Ishiguro, a fan of Star Trek's android Data, wasn't content with 
his Pygmalion creation. Repliee was designed as a research tool for what 
he terms "android science" -- a mixture of robotics and cognitive 
science in which androids can be used to study human behaviour such as 


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