(Screenshots by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)
Meet Diego-san, the oversized robot baby that has a semi-realistic, uncanny-valley head on a naked robot skeleton.
With 27 servo motors, patented "Frubber" skin, a head built by Hanson Robotics and a body built by Kokoro Company, Diego-san is helping researchers at the University of California San Diego's Machine Perception Laboratory understand the development — both physical and mental — of infants.
According to Phys.org, the robot is part of the "Developing Social Robots" project that aims to "make progress on computational problems that elude the most sophisticated computers and artificial intelligence approaches, but that infants solve seamlessly during their first year of life."
That is, can a computer be programmed to learn like a human infant?
"Basically," head of the Machine Perception Lab Dr Javier Movellan told Gizmag, "We are trying to understand the computational problems that a baby's brain faces when learning to move its own body and use it to interact with the physical and social worlds."
He's a pretty big baby, coming in at 1.3 metres tall and tipping the scales at 30 kilograms. Forty four pneumatic joints allow Diego-san to hold itself as a human might.
While we can appreciate the value of what the research team is doing, there's a small, vaguely worried voice in the back of our heads asking if it will end up being worth bringing Diego-san into the world. We can just see it, riding DARPA's LS3, like some sort of nightmarish, robotic harbinger of the apocalypse.
Now you, too, will have to live with that mental image. That's because we're so sharing. You're welcome.