Created by Will Jackon, Engineered Arts is the UK’s leading designer and manufacturer of humanoid entertainment robots, is how they describe themselves. However, there is certainly something deeper to their existence as a robotics ‘entertainment’ company.
Where robotics companies like Hanson Robotics and Boston Dynamics are actively trying to create robots that will eventually be mass-produced as helpers for humans, Engineered Arts is actually succeeding in what the other companies are desperately trying to achieve — realism in movement and aesthetics.
Where Sophia of Hanson Robotics is awkward to watch with stunted facial movements and absolutely horrendous jerky motility, the robotics engineers at Engineered Arts have truly captured the intricate muscle movements that denote facial expressions in humans.
Passing the uncanny valley is the key to the future of robotics, and with the fluid emotional qualities of Engineered Arts robots, there is a brief leap across the uncanny valley, although we still consciously can see these machines are robots.
We all know it’s just not the outward aesthetics that matter in robotic design, but the AI is ultimately the clincher of the entire enterprise, you cannot have one element and fall in another, both the AI and aesthetics must be proficient and complement each other.
If scientists can grow human organs and meat in laboratories, they can surely grow muscles or flesh and skin, which will eventually be placed over the skeletal bodies of these machines. The question then is how do you keep these elements alive, well, much like a real human these robots would have to incorporate a system of blood or specialist fluid vessels across the body, so the tissue could continue to live? Possibly the material covering the exoskeleton would be a composite material that is formed from a durable artificial substance and active biological cells incorporated with Nano technology to deliver nutrients or repair areas damaged.
The main problem with robotics at the moment is powering these machines, and it is possible that future robots will be powered by a specialist fluid, or battery cells that regenerate energy through movement or even utilise solar energy. Not sure about nuclear fission battery cells similar to those of Terminators visualised by the Terminator series? If the nuclear option were the case, then protection from radioactivity would have to be paramount in design. What’s the point of having these eternal robots walking around if they’re irradiating everything and killing off human fertility?
Recreating every single dendrite and synaptic pathway in the human brain is a long way away, however this mapping is in progress. Even though this may eventually happen, there will always the problem that every human brain is mapped differently and unique, therefore the scientists will have to possibly settle for a generic model to fabricate, then build on additions as required for future alterations.
As much has happened in history, it is British innovation that is truly moving robotics forward. Engineered Arts is currently leading the field.