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Japan's latest supermodel--a robot

Designed to look like an average Japanese woman, an awkward girlbot named HRP-4C will make its catwalk debut at a Tokyo fashion show.

Leslie_Katz.jpg
Leslie_Katz.jpg
Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
Credentials
  • Third place film critic, 2021 LA Press Club National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards
Leslie Katz
HRP-4C
The new Japanese humanoid robot HRP-4C displays a range of emotions (good luck discerning what they are) during a press conference in suburban Tokyo this week. Naturally, plenty of paparazzi were on hand. AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno

She doesn't have the grace of a Cindy Crawford or Elle MacPherson (yet), but a few struts on the catwalk may help HRP-4C loosen up and hit her stride. The walking, talking girlbot will be getting practice soon, as she's set to make her catwalk debut at a Tokyo fashion show next week.

Scientists from Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology reportedly designed the 5-foot (ish), dark-haired creation to look like an average Japanese woman between the ages of 19 and 29. Unlike the average Japanese woman, however, HRP-4C has 30 motors in her body that allow her to walk and move its arms (somewhat loudly and awkwardly, if the video below is any indication) and 8 facial motors for blinking, smiling, and expressing emotions akin to anger and surprise.

According to the Associated Press, the robotic framework for the HRP-4C, sans face and other coverings, will sell for about $200,000, and the technology behind it will eventually be made public so people can come up their own moves for the bot.

The government-backed AIST says she's mostly being developed for the entertainment industry--for use in amusement parks, for example, or as an exercise teacher--and is not yet ready to help with daily chores. So unfortunately for those eager to hire HRP-4C as a home or office assistant, for now at least, her main job is to look pretty--or odd, depending on your perspective.