Engineered Arts, the company behind the human-like Mesmer robot series, has unveiled a new creation that might make you even more uncomfortable.
According to The Verge, “Ameca” is a new humanoid robot that does not have realistic hair and skin like Mesmer, but can instead show more human-like, natural-looking expressions than others we’ve seen.
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Ameca appears to awaken with confusion, then with mild astonishment when it moves its hands (the hand gestures look fairly real, too). It then appears surprised to see the viewer or camera, and the video concludes with a smile and welcoming hand gesture.
The advancements in facial animation appear to be the result of more fluid movements than previously seen. In contrast, the Mesmer “Fred” robot had good head movements, but when he speaks, he “looks like he just had a shot of Novocain in his entire lower face,” as I wrote back in 2018.
Engineered Arts notes that none of its robots can walk, despite having a fully articulated head, face, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. It’s unclear how Ameca’s facial expressions were animated, but motion capture seems like a safe bet.
Ameca, according to the company, is a “platform for developing AI,” but it is allowing others to develop the necessary machine learning algorithms.
Engineered Arts have previously stated that it uses “powerful, silent, high-torque” motors to drive Mesmer’s body and head movements, with everything designed from the ground up to work perfectly together.
It also makes use of sensors such as cameras, depth sensors, LiDAR, and microphones. It has developed browser-based software that works similarly to 3D apps used for VFX or gaming animation to control movements.
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There’s no word on pricing or availability for Ameca or Mesmer, but the company’s more basic RoboThespian models are said to start at $79,000 and go up from there in 2018. In any case, we’ll get a closer look at Ameca soon, as Engineered Arts intends to showcase it at CES 2022 in Las Vegas.