The neighborhood kids probably aren’t robots. Unless you live in Japan, that is.
Engineers at the Univeristy of Osaka in Japan have put together a robotic baby head, in order to aid in research into the development of human intelligence. The team designed the robot, called Affetto, to be as human-like as possible.
Studies into social and intellectual development have tried using robots before, but the data was skewed because the robots wouldn’t react as a real baby would. This, in turn, would affect how the subjects would react to it, making it more difficult to collect the necessary data. Affetto, which is modeled on a 1-2 year old child, is an effort to eliminate that problem, and help advance the studies. Presumably the head is just the first step in the process, and the team will eventually attach it to a robot body. Realistic facial movements or not, it’s still just a head right now, which makes it hard to react to it like it was a real child.
I have to say that while this is quite unnerving, it’s still not a patch on the hospital robot that keeps you company while you’re sick, which was, funnily enough, also made in Japan. Unfortunately, the team behind the robot also posted a video of Affetto without its skin – which you can watch below – and that’s much, much more scary.