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World's most advanced android robots at The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
Former astronaut and the director of the museum, Mamoru Mori (2nd R), and Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro (2nd L) pose with new female humanoid robots "Otonaroid" (R) and "Kodomoroid" (L) at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Technology in Tokyo on June 24, 2014. Japanese scientists unveiled what they said was the world's first news-reading android, eerily lifelike and possessing a sense of humour to match her perfect language skills. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO.

TOKYO.- The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation opened a permanent exhibition entitled, “Android: What is Human?” where visitors can meet the world’s most advanced androids - robots which closely resemble humans.

This exhibition displays three android robots: the recently developed Kodomoroid® and Otonaroid®- a child android and an adult female android, respectively - and Telenoid®, an android designed without individual human physical features. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, a leading android expert who has been studying the question, “What is human?”

Kodomoroid® and Otonaroid® will attempt to fill human roles as the world’s first android announcer and as the Miraikan’s android science communicator, respectively. The exhibition is a unique and rare event which will provide visitors with the opportunity to communicate with and operate android robots, while shedding light on the attributes of humans in contrast with those of robots.

An android is a robot which closely resembles a human in appearance and movement. With soft skin made from special silicon and smooth motion made possible by artificial muscle, android robots are becoming increasing similar to humans at unimaginable speed. If an android robot gains the ability to talk and live identically to a human, you may not be able to distinguish between androids and humans before long. If this comes to pass, what would the word human mean? What is human? This question has been subject to debate since ancient times, and efforts to find an answer are still being made in all fields, including the humanities, social sciences, and art. Building an android can be described as a process of understanding what makes a human look like a human.

1. Kodomoroid®
Kodomoroid® is a teleoperated android robot resembling a human child. It is an android announcer with potential exceeding that of its human equivalent. It can recite news reports gathered from around the world 24 hours a day, every day, in a variety of voices and languages. In the studio set up in Tearoom of Zero/One on the third floor, you can watch her deliver news about global issues and space weather reports.

Characteristics: A child is vulnerable and is also a symbol of the future of the earth. Kodomoroid, with its close resemblance to a human child and detached voice, continuously recites world news. It is a work of art of sorts which asks profound questions about humanity’s future.

2. Otonaroid®
Otonaroid® is a teleoperated android robot resembling an adult female. She has been hired by the Miraikan as a robot science communicator. At the exhibition, you can talk with her and also operate her.

Characteristics: Otonaroid® is an experimental exhibition, in which you can experience a face-to-face conversation with an android robot and operate it. Through this experience, you will gradually acclimate to communication with an android robot and become capable of comprehending it more instinctively.

3. Telenoid®
Telenoid® is a teleoperated android robot with a minimal design, created as an attempt to embody the minimum physical requirements for humanlike communication. At the exhibition, you can talk with it and also operate it.

Characteristics: Compared to Otonaroid®, the design of Telenoid® omits specific human physical features, such as a physique and face. This robot, with its neutral appearance, enables people who communicate with it to feel that they are with anyone they wish.

This exhibition will demonstrate achievements made in relation to the research project, “Studies on cellphone-type teleoperated androids transmitting human presence” (*1), in the research area, “Creation of Human-Harmonized Information Technology for Convivial Society” (*2), under the JST Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST).

(*1) Research director: Hiroshi Ishiguro, Director (visiting), ATR Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories (ATR Fellow)

(*2) Research supervisors: Yohichi Tohkura, Professor Emeritus, National Institute of Informatics (- Dec. 2013) Toyoaki Nishida, Professor, Graduate School of Informatics, Kyoto University (Jan. 2014-)

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