Realistic robot faces aren’t enough

Robot designers face challenging dilemmas when it comes to creating complex and believable facial features for social agents. Continuing advancements in android technology permits developers to create robots that are more lifelike, designed to facilitate human to robot communication. Given their mortal resemblance, we should feel more comfortable interacting with artificial forms that exhibit similar physical characteristics. However, realistic robot faces aren’t enough to ease our discomfort. Even though we project human characteristics onto androids, we only feel comfortable with these noticeable physical attributes in robots up to a certain point. When the socialisation becomes repulsive or uncomfortable with automatons, we reach the uncanny valley effect.

The Uncanny Valley Consequence

The uncanny valley consequence stems from the discomfort people feel with the human-like robot appearance and its mechanical behaviour. Social agents become objectionable to people when theirrealistic robot faces aren’t enough to overcome eerie expressions that don’t accurately convey natural emotion. Encounters with robots, where there are both human and nonhuman elements, remains for many an awkward and perturbing experience.

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The uncanny valley effect

Research into overcoming the uncanny valley effect has focused on how robots can appear more human-like and the techniques needed to bridge this gap for acceptable interaction with people. Recent studies on uncanny valley hone in on its most unsettling facial aspects in the lack of believable emotions expressed by robots. However, striving for authentic facial emotions in android design might not overcome the uncanny valley divide. Human faces photographed in certain conditions can also appear unnatural, such as pairing angry eyes with a smiling face. These contrasting emotions in a human face also produce unease, similar to the uncanny valley.

Bypassing the Uncanny Valley

To meet the realistic robot faces aren’t enough challenge, designers have the option of bypassing the uncanny valley by creating mechanised robots that are highly expressive, highlighting social capabilities. Mechanical looking robots avoid the tension created between a lifelike outward appearance and unnerving emotional expressions. Instead, the focus turns to a robot’s ability to communicate and to interact socially with people.

Meet-and-Greet Robot Aiko

The characteristics humanised would be social rather than physical, avoiding the disconnect between human expectations and robot appearance. Approaching android design with less human realism would allow them to fit more effortlessly into our daily lives. Opting for designing less humanised androids avoids the constant race of creating near human agents with equally complex emotions, eschewing the realistic robot faces aren’t enough debate.

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