A few months ago, the 2045 Initiative movement (previously known as Russia 2045) unveiled the first realistic Russian android head, based on its founder Dmitry Itskov. He's a big believer in the prophetic technological singularity, and claims that by 2045 we will have developed the means to transplant our minds into computers and android bodies. His android surrogate, built and programmed by Moscow-based Neurobotics, has been dismantled and turned into the country's first female android.
Alissa's face may look somewhat realistic at first glance, since the silicone mask was made from one of Neurobotics' employees. However, unlike other android heads which can have more than 30 points of articulation, Alissa has only eight. This works out to be just enough to add movement to its eyes and mouth, which are controlled with a standard game pad. The head is mounted to a mannequin, which stands on a wheel base for mobility.
Alissa has some basic AI thanks to the company's conversational software, which synchronizes the mouth movements to the words spoken by its speech synthesizer. "The pseudo-AI is very basic, providing simple question and answer type interactions. The voice recognition doesn't require training for specific people, but it is sensitive to pauses and speech volume," explained Mikhail Shcherbakov, who recently visited the lab. The lab work is still in its early stages.
In telepresence mode, the operator uses Skype to communicate with the outside world. The cameras in Alissa's eyeballs provide a video feed, while the operator uses a headset. The company is experimenting with a relatively simple EEG (electroencephalography) set-up to allow the operator to drive the robot's base using thoughts alone.
Neurobotics is working closely with the 2045 Initiative, which claims androids will be commonplace by the end of the decade. However, given the humbling reality of the current state-of-the-art in countries like Japan, such predictions should be taken with a heavy grain of salt. You can see Alissa in action in the following video.
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