Are we ready for this? It may not be quite at the level of Cyberdyne Systems and those pesky Skynet run-amok Cyborgs, but we are getting scarily close. Granted, we may also be getting a tad bit overly dramatic here, or are we? “Ameca” is the name of the humanlike robot created by Engineered Arts and once you see “her” in action, you may understand the concern.
Engineered Arts is the company that created the humanlike robot Mesmer series. Complete with realistic hair and skin, Mesmer gave us a peek at what was to come with Ameca. The new robot, while not having realistic hair and skin, has a lot more “creep” in the creepy factor as it can accomplish much more with its human-like expressions that are a great deal more natural-looking than previously seen.
When Ameca first wakes, as you will see in the video below, it has the look of confusion. When it moves its hands, Ameca then shows mild astonishment. The hand gestures also look pretty darn real as well. When the humanlike robot then looks toward the camera, it appears surprised. In the end, Ameca finishes with a smile and a welcoming hand gesture. Take a look at the tech company’s 41-second video and let us know what you think.
You were probably be impressed by the lifelike features and reactions Ameca gives but the highlight of the video is the guy in the background throwing shade at the camera operator. Here’s hoping that he doesn’t get on the wrong side of Ameca.
Furthermore, what sets Ameca apart from the Mesmer robot is the work Engineered Arts has put into the facial movements. They are much more fluid and when compared to Mesmer, much more realistic. When Engadget first took a look at Mesmer, they said he “looks like he just had a shot of Novocain in his entire lower face.”
Engineered Arts has not divulged how Ameca’s humanlike facial expressions were animated. One possibility indicates that it could be from motion capture, which would give it its humanlike capabilities, but only Engineered Arts really knows how they did it. From what can be seen in the video, Ameca looks to have a fully articulated head and face to go along with its neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. Right now, Engineered Arts says the only thing it can’t do is walk, but give them time.
According to Skynet, excuse us, Engineered Arts, they note that Ameca is a “platform for developing AI.” They are not developing the machine learning algorithms; they are letting other tech companies do this.
When Engineered Arts spoke about how Mesmer was built, they said that they used “powerful, silent, high-torque” motors to get the body and head movements seen in their earlier human-like robot. Everything concerning Mesmer was created from scratch and designed to work perfectly together.
If Ameca is the further iteration of the Mesmer robot, then it too uses depth sensors, cameras, LiDAR, and microphones to make it go like Mesmer. They control movements with an in-house developed browser-based software which works much as you would see in 3d apps used for games or video effects.
Based in Britain, Engineered Arts says both humanlike robots are ready to rent or for purchase. They haven’t given any price point yet, but another earlier version called the RoboThespian started at $79,000 and up in 2018, so expect the Ameca price tag to go well beyond that.
Another big difference, according to Engineered Arts, between Mesmer and Ameca is that the new humanlike robot’s parts are modular, which means you don’t need the entire robot to entertain. “You can have just a head, or even only an arm,” the tech company said via The New York Post.
To make this robot Skynet worthy, Engineered Arts has designs on Ameca becoming more mobile and lifelike in the future through a series of updates and because the robot is so interchangeable. “The modular architecture allows for future upgrades, both physically and through software, to enhance Ameca’s abilities, all without having to fork out for an entirely new robot,” they say. That being said, it is truly exciting to see what the future may have in store.