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Yangyang is an eerie female robot that can talk, smile, shake your hand, and hug you

Yangyang - female robot
Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters
Yangyang is a female robot that will cause you to marvel at the capabilities of modern technology, creep you out, or remind you of Sarah Palin — or maybe all of the above. The humanoid can talk, blink, smile, shake your hand, and even hug you.

The robot, the joint creation of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University in Japan and Shanghai Shenqing Industry in China, made its debut at Beijing’s Global Mobile Internet Conference, which ran from April 28-30. “I was born in Japan but grew up in China,” Yangyang told its audience at the conference.

Adorned with long brown hair, a red coat, and Palin-esque eyeglasses, Yangyang was formed in the likeness of researcher Song Yang, wife of the president of Shanghai Shenqing Industry and professor at Sanlian College in China.

“At present, this robot has the most features,” Yang told Reuters. “She has 43 degrees of freedom across her whole body, most of them are concentrated on the face. Because of this, her expressions can be very varied.”

The goal of creating Yangyang goes far beyond shock (or creep) value, according to Hiroshi Ishiguro, director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University. For one thing, Ishiguro plans on deploying Yangyang as an educational ambassador that can teach children about robotics, he told Motherboard in an interview. He added that Yangyang could also be used as a robot “greeter” in department stores or museums.

Then there’s the more existential significance of a robot like Yangyang: Ishiguro told Motherboard that someone who has their own android can extend themselves to do “several things simultaneously.” For example, Yangyang can allow Yang to be a singer, so to speak.

A University of California, San Diego study focused on explaining the “uncanny valley” found that our brains respond negatively when we see a human-like android that moves like a robot.

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Jason Hahn
Jason Hahn is a part-time freelance writer based in New Jersey. He earned his master's degree in journalism at Northwestern…
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