Robots that look like humans are a growing trend in recent times, with a number of organizations showing off their robots that mimic human looks and expressions often in a creepy manner. The latest of these is Jia Jia, a female robot developed by the University of Science and Technology in China, who, while more realistic than many, still lands firmly in the uncanny valley.
Jia Jia is capable of talking with humans in real-time, make a number of preset facial expressions and even detect if an unflattering picture is being taken and tell off the photographer. “Don’t come too close to me when you are taking a picture. It will make my face look fat,” she told one person trying to take her photograph at the press release.
She is the result of 3 years of work by researchers and engineers at the university, with a lot of effort going into small but important details such as the mouth movement when she speaks or how her eyes move as she looks around a room. There are still some features that need to be worked on, including making her able to perform more complex expressions such as laughing or crying and aside from the head, she looks somewhat like a dummy, which is mostly visible from her hands. These could be improved in a future version of the robot, as the team is set to continue work on Jia Jia, but there are no plans to mass produce or otherwise release her. She could even include deep learning capabilities in a later version according to team leader Chen Xiaoping.