Japanese inventor hopes “ro-butt” can develop communication
The mechanical buttocks may look like a new low for the world of Japanese robotics, but they may actually mark a new leap into the future of humanoid development.
Inventor Nobuhiro Takahashi programmed his creation, called “ SHIRI” or “butt” in Japanese, to respond with different emotions to different human touches.
Takahashi hopes to use the proto-type technology to develop responses which can be applied to other part of a robot’s body, in particular the face, to help with non-verbal communication.
He decided to develop his technology with a rear end because a bottom’s movements are large and make it easier to convey emotion.
“I wanted to try and use a butt to reflect emotions — fear, joy and relaxation,” the 24-year-old Takahashi, a graduate student at the Tokyo University of Electro-Communication, told Reuters.
Robots are able to communicate with voices but have largely lacked the sort of non-verbal, physical responses that help power much of human communication. Takahashi hopes his technology can overcome that.
To get a robot to show fear, Takahashi would use a hit, or in the case of the buttocks, a spank.
“Fear is a very human — very living — emotion, so it’s expressed with force, with a spank,” he said, speaking inside a black tent designed to keep light from damaging the silicon-coated invention.
The robot bottom responds to a hit with quivering. A slow wobble is its default state, the sign for relaxation, while a gentle stroke brings clenches that Takahashi said signal pleasure.
“If we could apply this technology to conventional humanoid robots — these things which are on the dividing line between man and robot — well, they would be able to express feelings sufficient to communicate with humans properly,” he said.