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Humanoid bot greets guests at Tokyo store

A female android developed by Tokyo University of Science Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi has been greeting shoppers at a department store in Tokyo.

Pink Tentacle

A female android developed at Tokyo University of Science has been working as a receptionist at a department store in the Japanese capital.

Saya, an air-servo-powered robot created by Professor Hiroshi Kobayashi, just finished a stint greeting customers at Takashimaya, one of the most prestigious retailers in Japan.

Saya can interact with people by responding to questions posed through a microphone. Decked out in a Takashimaya jacket and hat along with makeup by RMK, she directed customers to the appropriate floor of the retailer's flagship store in the Nihonbashi district.

Saya has about 700 programmed voice responses, including small talk like, "My name is Saya and I was created at Tokyo Science University." Servos in her face can simulate expressions such as surprise and happiness, as well as move her eyes and mouth.

Pink Tentacle

Saya has also been put to work teaching in a Tokyo elementary school and greeting visitors at an Israeli hospital.

Compared with some other androids developed in Japan, including the Repliee series and Actroid, Saya has fewer servomotors. I think this results in appearance and behavior that doesn't quite overcome the Uncanny Valley problem, in which realistic robots seem zombielike.

Anyway, Takashimaya shoppers weren't creeped out by the droid, which had pretty good voice recognition results until one customer told her she was pretty. To which Saya responded: "Are you crazy?"

Maybe she's right.

(Via Pink Tentacle)