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Silicone skin created for next-generation ‘companion’ humanoid robots

Artificial robot skin designed by Promobot, a tech company based in Russia. (TASS)

A company in Russia is working to create realistic looking silicone skin and authentic eyes for the next generation of robots.

Promobot, with a special lab based in Vladivostok, is working on building the ‘Robo-C-2’ companion robot.

It will be able to conduct a wide range of facial expressions and, thanks to the skin, hair and eyes, will seem eerily like a flesh-and-blood human.

‘Our key task is to make anthropomorphic robots not just realistic but also attractive, to add a touch of aesthetic,’ Petr Chegodayev, a sculptor and head of the lab, previously told Russian media.

‘We have all the necessary conditions for that here in Vladivostok, and I am sure that we will make a qualitative leap in the near future.’

A view of Robo-C-2, a humanoid companion robot with its head, neck and arms flexible enough to interact with an audience and make gestures. (TASS)
The new Promobot creation is equipped with a wide range of facial microexpressions (TASS)
Authentic looking hair is also attached to the androids (TASS)

Promobot was founded in 2015 and has become one of the largest manufacturers of autonomous service robots in Russia.

Its robots work in 43 countries as administrators, promoters, consultants, guides and concierges, replacing or supplementing human employees.

As well as creating realistic looking skin out of special polymers, the company is also on the hunt for an identity to give to its companion robots.

But rather than create one from scratch, the Russian firm is willing to pay someone £150k to licence their identity forever.

A worker tends to a robot designed by Promobot (TASS)
A close view of the head of Robo-C-2 with the skin, hair and eyes in place (TASS)

‘Since 2019, we have been actively manufacturing and supplying humanoid robots to the market. Our new clients want to launch a large-scale project, and as for this, they need to license a new robot appearance to avoid legal delays,’ said Promobot.

The new robot with the selected person’s face is slated to start its activities in 2023.

The winning applicant will first have to take a 3D model of their face and body for the robot’s external features. 

A man works in the production department of Promobot (TASS)
A robot designed by Promobot (TASS)

They will then ‘have to dictate at least 100 hours of speech material to copy your voice’, which will be used by the machine to communicate with customers.

After that, the winning applicant will have to ‘sign a license agreement’ that allows ‘the use of your appearance for an unlimited period’.

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