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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The female humanoid with slightly oversized eyes, a tiny nose and shoulder-length hair boasts 42 motion motors programmed to mimic the movements of flesh-and-blood fashion models.

"Hello everybody, I am cybernetic human HRP-4C," said the futuristic fashionista, opening her media premiere at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology outside Tokyo.
The fashion-bot is 5ft 2 ins, the average height of young Japanese women, but weighs in at a waiflike 95 pounds (43 kilos) – including batteries.

Appearing before photographers and television crews, the seductive cyborg struck poses, flashed smiles and pouted sulkily according to commands transmitted wirelessly via bluetooth devices.

The performance fell short of flawless when she occasionally mixed up her facial expressions – a mistake the inventors put down to a case of the nerves as a hail of camera shutters confused her sound recognition sensors.

She has a slightly manga-inspired human face but a silver metallic body.

"If we had made the robot too similar to a real human, it would have been uncanny," said one of the inventors, humanoid research leader Shuji Kajita. "We have deliberately leant toward an anime style."

The institute said the robot "has been developed mainly for use in the entertainment industry" but is not for sale at the moment.

"We unveiled this to attract attention in society," said Junji Ito, a senior official at the institute, who said he saw the HRP-4C as a stepping stone toward creating a humanoid industry.

"It's important that people feel good about humanoids and want to work with them," he said. "We shifted from a dry mechanical image to a very human image."

The preview was a warm-up for the robot's appearance at a Tokyo fashion show on March 23.

Like her real-life counterparts, HRP-4C commands a hefty price – the institute said developing and building her cost more than 200 million yen (£1.4 million).

Hirohisa Hirukawa, another researcher, said the institute hoped to commercialise the humanoid in future.


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