Technology has enriched our lives in so many ways. The world’s best and brightest created the Internet, cracked the human genome and landed machines on Mars. Also, someone created a robotic butt.
Nobuhiro Takahashi of the University of Electro-Communications has finally given mankind the humanoid robot butt it so desperately needed. Like an uncomfortable person on the subway, it reacts to different types of human touch.
For example, when poked, the robot can quiver in fear. Rub it and it will protrude, which is supposed to signify happiness, although all you’ll be feeling is deep shame. It measures what kind of touch it’s receiving through a microphone implanted in the silicon skin.
The robot, named SHIRI, is made of a rigid urethane skeleton, a model pelvis and (I kid you not) a gluteus maximus actuator, which is made out of a pressurized red airbag. All joking aside — and believe me, that’s hard — this robot has some pretty interesting implications.
As we look to integrate robots into our daily lives, it’s important that robots learn to operate in a world made for humans. Stiff, metal robots are great for factories; they’re not so great for taking care of Grandma.
Other scientists have already been researching starfish-like robots that move with inflated air sacs and soft robots with sensors that help them respond to even light touch. So laugh all you want, but this robot butt could represent a step towards making robots in the home a reality.
Professor Mix-a-Lot could not be reached for comment.
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