A Japanese robot that controls its own movements in response to its environment is showcased in Tokyo. Amy Pollock reports.
Meet Alter, the Japanese android designed to resemble a human on both the inside and outside. Its face and body are designed to look human, and moves in a surprisingly life-like way. A neural network and 42 pneumatic actuators power Alter's random movements. And the robot can even sing. SOUNDBITE (Japanese) PROFESSOR OF ROBOT ENGINEERING AT OSAKA UNIVERSITY, HIROSHI ISHIGURO, SAYING: "We haven't yet been able to do fundamental research on what life and vitality is. However, if we can feel something true to life in Alter, this robot will be the first one to be humanlike from inside." Alter's movements are a reaction to movement, temperature and humidity in its immediate environment. Its developers say Alter's ability to determine its own movements is a real scientific advance. Japanese robot fans have been treated to more new automatons on display at the Robot and Living Exhibition in Tokyo'sTakashimaya store. 70 YEAR OLD VISITOR, KYOHEI MATSUI, SAYING: "I'd like a robot that can help with tasks like eating or getting in to bed or the bath." 8 YEAR-OLD BOY, KEI ITO, SAYING: "I'd like a robot who can move and talk." Visitors admired a ride-on robot controlled by a joystick and a dancing robot that entertains the whole family.