Making a robot that looks and behaves like a human being has been the subject of many
popular science fiction movies and books. Although the development of such a robot
faces many challenges, the making of a virtual human has long been potentially possible.
With recent advances in various key technologies related to hardware and software, the
making of humanlike robots is increasingly becoming an engineering reality.
Development of the required hardware that can perform humanlike functions in a
lifelike manner has benefitted greatly from development in such technologies as
biologically inspired materials, artificial intelligence, artificial vision, and many others.
Producing a humanlike robot that makes body and facial expressions, communicates
verbally using extensive vocabulary, and interprets speech with high accuracy is extremely
complicated to engineer. Advances in voice recognition and speech synthesis are
increasingly improving communication capabilities. In our daily life we encounter such
innovations when we call the telephone operators of most companies today.
As robotics technology continues to improve we are approaching the point where,
on seeing such a robot, we will respond with ‘‘Wow, this robot looks unbelievably real!’’
just like the reaction to an artificial flower. The accelerating pace of advances in related
fields suggests that the emergence of humanlike robots that become part of our daily
life seems to be imminent. These robots are expected to raise ethical concerns and may
also raise many complex questions related to their interaction with humans.