New Research


2009/09/01

Android Science

-Learning about People through Robotics-

Professor: Hiroshi Ishiguro, Associate Professor: Yoshio Iwai, Assistant Professor: Hajime Nagahara

At the Ishiguro Lab, we are developing and researching robots which interact with people, and which incorporate mechanisms inspired by characteristics of human intelligence and biological structures; in doing so, we seek to gain insight into human cognition and “human-likeness.”
Attempts to replicate human appearance and the movement of human muscles have resulted in the development of androids, robots bearing a close resemblance to humans. Silicone skin allows for a very human-like outer appearance. Pneumatic actuators enable motion more similar to that of human muscles than servo motors have traditionally in the past. Tactile sensors embedded in the skin allow androids to feel, as people would, when something comes into contact with them.
Although at times androids can seem human-like due to their outer appearance and movements, this is not always the case. For example, when an android is completely motionless, even people who have been given no cause to be suspect that an android might be present are quick to realize it’s not a human. However, when an android moves its neck slightly or blinks, it takes time before people realize it’s not a human. This is because, even when we think we’re not doing anything, we’re actually usually moving unconsciously, so such small movements appear human-like to us. In this way, the development and research of androids helps us to better understand how people perceive others, and what is entailed by “human-likeness.”


Ishiguro Lab. web page
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