Recently the HRP-4C was in the news. This Japanese humanoid robot performed at the 2010 Digital Content Expo held in Tokyo.
The video can be seen below :
(Source : YouTube)
The HRP-4C is a humanoid robot designed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). HRP stands for Humanoid Robotics Project and C stands for Cybernetic Human. 4 is the number in the series of humanoids developed by the AIST. This robot made its first public appearance in March 2009 . The robot is considered to be a “Gynoid”- a robot resembling a human female. The HRP-4C is 5 ft 2 inches tall and weighs approx 43 kgs. The unique feature of this robot is it is designed to sing and dance and mimic human facial, head and hand movements. Through the use of special software , the robot can recognize ambient sounds and mimic the same. To see how this is done, please check out the video :
HRP-4C is not the only Humanoid robot in Japan and there are many more, prominent being Actroid Repliee Q1, Actroid Repliee Q2 and Actroid Sara. The Repliee Actroids are humanoid robots which can mimic human functions such as speaking, breathing and blinking and they can recognize speech and touch and can respond accordingly. The external appearance is made using silicone and is also designed to resemble human skin. Most of these actroids are modeled on young Japanese women. Infact one particular model is designed to look like a 5 year old girl.(Reminds me of the American television series "Small Wonder" which I used to watch in my childhood.) The Geminoid HI-1 however is modeled after a male.
Infact the Sanrio group, popular for Hello Kitty and other animation characters has a separate division called Kokoro which specializes in Robots. Check out the website for interesting information on Actroids.