Updated May 28, 2022 - Technology

Humanoid robots for rent

Ameca, a humsnoid robot, greets a Bavarian official.
Ameca interacts with Markus Söder, Minister President of Bavaria, at an event in Nuremberg. Photo by Daniel Karmann/picture alliance via Getty Images

Eerily realistic androids may be showing up at a party or publicity event near you, if a British firm called Engineered Arts has its way.

What it is: A line of robots called Ameca is available for rent, to impress your guests with what its maker says is a "huge library of preprogrammed actions, speech and songs."

  • While it can't walk, Ameca "can automatically maintain eye contact with passersby and react to those around them in unbelievably convincing ways," says Engineered Arts.
  • The robot can also be programmed with "5 minutes of specially-made content built in by our experts: sell your brand, tell jokes or give a presentation."

What went viral: This video of Ameca's facial expressions wowed the internet — particularly when the robot pushed away the hand of a seemingly intrusive researcher.

Where it stands: The robots are sold and rented out for entertainment and education, according to The Verge. "They’re used by academics for research; by marketing teams for publicity stunts; and placed in museums, airports, and malls to welcome visitors."

  • Ameca "can run on autopilot, reacting to passersby with preset banter," per The Verge. "Or they can be controlled remotely, with unseen handlers responding to queries from the crowd."

What's next: The Verge called these robots "heralds of the future," saying, "As technology improves and androids become more realistic, the question of how we relate to such machines is going to become more pressing."

Editor's note: This story was originally published on May 24.

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