Robots could be about to get a whole lot more realistic thanks to a new face cloning technology developed by scientists at Disney.
Creating a realistic-looking robot face is a notoriously difficult task, mainly because it has to cope with our huge repertoire of expressions. Each of these expressions is accompanied by subtle skin changes – dimples around the mouth, for example, or creases on the forehead. Failing to capture these features leads to the ‘uncanny valley’ problem, where the robot’s not-quite-human behavior gives us the heebie-jeebies.
Disney’s new technology aims to overcome this problem by mimicking the facial expressions of a real person. First, a 3D scan is made of the subject’s expressions, capturing all of the skin’s wrinkles and creases. Next, a computer model works out the skin thickness and the positions of the underlying mechanical motors required to best match the human expressions. The custom skin is then made out of silicone and fitted over an animatronic head.
Check out the final result in the video below. What do you think: frighteningly realistic, or just plain frightening?