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Expressive Ameca Robot Appears at CES 2022

Credit: Unsplash

The robot’s expressive face can react in real time.

While it’s been significantly paired down due to COVID-19 concerns, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada is still in full swing, and they have all sorts of fascinating technological advancements on display. For those of you who are fans of robots, and really, who isn’t, you may be interested in the robotics project Engineered Arts has cooked up: a lifelike humanoid robot named Ameca.

Engineered Arts has been developing Ameca for a while now, with footage of its incredibly lifelike facial expressions popping up here and there online. At CES 2022, the public got a chance to interact with Ameca face-to-face, and its expressive design was so convincing, it actually freaked a few people out.

“This is even starting to freak us out at Engineered Arts and we are used to it!” the company said in the description of their promotional video.

Ameca’s face, which was constructed using 3D scans of the company’s various employees, features a complex system of 17 motors and actuators that allow it to mimic the quirks of human facial and bone structure. Using a built-in algorithm, it can react to various external stimuli in real time. For example, if you poke it in the nose, it’ll get mad at you.

Engineered Arts took steps to ensure that while Ameca would look lifelike, it wouldn’t look too lifelike, as their previous endeavors were a bit too deep into the Uncanny Valley. “What we found was, when you try and make it look ultra-lifelike, like our other Mesmer line, it looks a bit more sinister because it’s right in the uncanny valley,” said Morgan Roe, Engineered Arts’ director of operations. “But when we created Ameca, we pulled it backwards out of the uncanny valley.”

Oh, and if you’re concerned about robot uprisings, don’t be; Ameca doesn’t have any actual AI built into it. It’s not a thinking machine, it’s just running routines based on simple algorithms, kind of like a chatbot. And even if it turned evil, the face is the only part that’s actually articulated, so it can’t run after you or anything.