Meet Roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro And His Robot Doppelgänger

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Friday, July 21, 2006

Roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro and his Robot DoppelgangerJapanese roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro created a robot clone of himself. His incredibly lifelike mechanical double, “Geminoid HI-1,” sometimes takes his place in meetings and classes.

Hiroshi Ishiguro, a senior researcher at ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories outside Kyoto, is a busy man. Between his two jobs, countless meetings and presentations, his demanding schedule was eating up all his time. So he built an android version of himself to pick up the slack.

The robot looks and moves exactly like him. It sits on a chair and gazes around the room in a very humanlike fashion, just like Hiroshi. It blinks and fidgets in its seat, moving its foot up and down restlessly, its shoulders rising gently as though it were breathing. These micromovements are so convincing that it’s hard to believe this is a machine — it seems more like a man wearing a rubber mask. But a living, breathing man.

Ishiguro’s doppelgänger was made from casts taken from his own body. Powered by pressurized air and small actuators, it runs on semiautonomous motion programs.
Roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro
Geminoid can be operated remotely so the robot reproduces the voice, posture and lip movements of Ishiguro, who wears a motion-capture system. A mouseclick raises a hand or finger.

Ishiguro, whose job is teaching at Osaka University, an hour’s drive away, designed Geminoid so he could “robot in” to his classes and skip the commute. As he steps out from behind a curtain like the Wizard of Oz, standing beside his robot self, the shift is disconcerting.
via Wired

I wish I could get a clone of myself, several in fact. Hiroshi’s research will hopefully give us more insight into what gives a human his illusive presence. Geminoid HI-1 already has palpable gravitas but it isn’t Data (from Star Trek) yet, not by a long shot.

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