Judgment Day has arrived. A humanoid robot with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s likeness somehow managed to time travel from the future to New York Toy Fair 2020. Fortunately for us, only the uppermost part of his body made the journey intact.
I crossed paths with the frighteningly disembodied terminator — er, sorry, robot assistant — from Russian robotics startup Promobot. I was more shocked than impressed, honestly.
Promobot is behind a line of “promotional robots” that look like robots, though they mimic the size and height of humans. The company’s Robo-C model, however, takes on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s likeness, complete with realistic facial expressions, skin that looks like skin, and a bulging vein near the hairline. It also makes an attempt at interacting with people through conversation. The appearance is uncannily realistic and more than a little disturbing. However. the realism falls apart the moment Ah-nold speaks.
Instead of uttering classic Arnold one-liners and phrases with his Austrian accent, this Arnold look-alike has a cheery British accent. Perhaps the pair of glasses Arnold’s rocking on the bridge of his nose is a hint that he’s more brains than brawn.
I wouldn’t know, because I often couldn’t comprehend what he was saying. That might be due to the noise around me, which British Arnold couldn’t compete with. To make matters worse, the movements of his lips weren’t well synchronized to what he was saying, diminishing his ability to appear life-like. You definitely won’t be reading his lips.
Besides his lessthanstellar conversational skills, the robot can definitely pass for Arnold — until you’re up close and realize it’s just a bust. A touchscreen below the bust of Arnold is used for making selections, and there’s a camera for identifying faces, so Arnold can keep his eyes fixed on whoever he’s conversing with. However, the facial expressions could be tweaked a bit more to make him more approachable. Robo-Arnold is stonefaced, just like his character in the Terminator movies.
While I’m not convinced this could ever pass as human, Robo-C hopes it can be used to build a smart assistant or guide, such as a tour guide at a museum, or a home companion. I do think it could pass as a robot guide with only a few improvements, as visitors might find the robot’s novelty interesting. It certainly grabbed my attention. But a home companion? That’s a stretch.
As you might expect, Arnold doesn’t come cheap. You’ll have to spend between $25,000 to $50,000 customizing the robot. Promobot is accepting orders for its Arnold humanoid robot through its website.
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