CHINA / Regional

First Chinese 'beauty' robot destined for Sichuan
Updated: 2006-08-04 20:16

BEIJING -- Nowadays robots can not only talk and dance, they are also lookers. A China-made robot is a "beauty".

A new 168-cm, 60-kg "beauty" robot who has not yet been named looks stunning in a scarlet wedding garment. She can act as a tour guide, a receptionist, or a toastmaster.

Her face, made of glass fibre reinforced plastic, incorporates the beautiful facial characteristics of cover girls. And her eyes can move.

Li Chengrong, principal designer of the robot, said here Friday in an interview with Xinhua, "The robot is the first human simulation robot in China, and she is equipped with the most advanced voice and movement control technologies and can interact with humans."

Li and his colleagues have spent a year developing the robot and making "her" pretty.

"Her predecessors 'Pang Pang' and 'Fei Fei' only had cartoon faces. Not only is the new robot prettier, she is equipped with cutting-edge technology in human-robot interaction," said Li, who works for the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Automation.

The "beauty" can interact with human beings. She replies "Thank you. You're pretty too" if you praise her by saying "You are so pretty."

"The sentences that the robot can understand and say are limited at present. We will improve her in the future, to make her talk freely with human beings," Li said.

Since the "beauty" is destined for Sichuan Science Museum, where she will work as a receptionist and tour guide, she has been programmed to speak the southwestern dialect that prevails in inland Sichuan Province.

The research group will further improve the robot after receiving feedback from buyers and visitors, Li said.

Li said the lab cost for designing and making the robot was 300,000 yuan (37,500 U.S. dollars). The cost could be lowered to less than 100,000 yuan if they could mass produce 100 robots each year.

They plan to start selling the robots next year, and potential customers would include star-rated hotels and entertainment clubs.

"Although the robot is equipped with interactive technologies," Li said, "artificial intelligence technology in China is still not up with the best in the world," Li said.

The most advanced robot in the world is sleek-looking Asimo, produced by Japanese auto-maker Honda. Asimo, who can walk at a speed of one mile per hour and climb up and down stairs, costs roughly one million U.S. dollars.