Meet HRP-4C, a model who will be walking the runway in a Tokyo fashion show on March 23. Unlike most fashion models, she's only five foot two. And her body is made of metal.
According to Breitbart, the "girlie-faced humanoid" has "slightly oversized eyes, a tiny nose and a shoulder length hair-do." Her face was inspired my manga on purpose:
"If we had made the robot too similar to a real human, it would have been uncanny," said one of the inventors, humanoid research leader Shuji Kajita. "We have deliberately leaned toward an anime style."
Supermodel Linda Evangelista famously said she wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day. HRP-4C cost $2 million to develop, but seems to be working for free.
While this seems to be the same robot that has done other gimmicks before — teaching and housework — it does raise some interesting questions about the nature of a fashion model. Some people are of the opinion that a model is merely a hanger, a faceless rack for the clothes to hang on. Others believe that a model is what makes clothes come alive, shows their attitude, potential and allure. Is a robot capable of imbuing a garment with emotion? Can a computer be programmed to do this? Would models ever be replaced with robots? And do people really still think that being a model is just about "robotically" following orders?
While HRP-4C has 42 motion motors programmed to mimic the movements of flesh-and-blood fashion models, she — like real models who stumble on the catwalk — is not perfect. She messed up her debut "performance" by getting some facial expressions mixed up. The inventors blamed camera shutters, but HRP-4C is getting her first important life lesson: the spotlight can be cruel.