Meet China’s New Realistic Robot “Jia Jia”

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.

Sophia the Robot: “I Will Destroy Humans”

While most efforts are mired deep in the Uncanny Valley, roboticists remain determined to create lifelike human automatons. Sophia, the latest creation from Hanson Robotics, brings us one step closer to creating humanoid robots.

Sophia’s development team was led by Dr. David Hanson, who based the feminine android on an amalgam of his wife and Audrey Hepburn. Her skin is made from a unique silicon-based material and, thanks to the machinery in her artificial head, can replicate around 62 different facial expressions. If you ask Sophia, she will tell you that she was “born” on 19th April, 2015, the date of her activation.

“Our goal is that she will be as conscious, creative and capable as any human,” Hanson told CNBC. “We are designing these robots to serve in health care, therapy, education and customer service applications.”

“The artificial intelligence will evolve to the point where they will truly be our friends,” he added. “Not in ways that dehumanize us, but in ways the rehumanize us, that decrease the trend of the distance between people and instead connect us with people as well as with robots.”

Friends, unless instructed to destroy humanity, of course – a task to which Sophia gleefully agrees:

OK, so Sophia might not be the harbinger of our Judgement Day, but she is sure to achieve fame as the ultimate strange robot: