‘Average Russian woman’ humanoid robot unveiled to help with public services

A humanoid robot, apparently modeled after the average Russian woman, has begun providing services to the public at a government office in Perm, a large city approximately 1,100 kilometers east of Moscow.

The human-like robot was designed with bureaucracy in mind. Adopting the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk, it signals yet another example of what humanity faces in a post-Covid world.

According to its creators from Russian robotics startup Promobot, the robot’s appearance is that of an average Russian woman, and relied on the analysis by artificial intelligence of thousands of females to generate.

The robot, with long blond hair and brown eyes, is capable of more than 600 human facial expressions, controlled mechanically under its artificial skin.

A female human-like robot assists a visitor at a multi-functional document processing centre in the city of Perm, Russia July 9, 2020. © Promobot/Handout via REUTERS

The Russian startup, which currently operates in 35 different countries, was awarded  $2.7 million by the state Far-East High Technology Fund to develop artificial skin and set up a local branch in Russia’s far east.

The humanoid, which has already replaced one unlucky registry office employee, currently only has access to a few document databases and can operate basic functions such as answering generic questions.

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A robotic canary in the coal mine

The requirements of social distancing in a post-Covid world are shaping society in many ways, sometimes weird and not always wonderful. 

In the workplace, cleaning robots are being trialled to help mitigate the risk of exposure of traditional cleaning workers.

And in countries from the Netherlands to China, contactless interaction with the public is becoming the industry norm across many sectors.

Early this month, it was reported that all citizenM hotel locations worldwide now offer contactless stays to their guests via a free-to-install, voluntary app.

In China, Leyeju Smart Hotels have taken it a step further and now run an entirely automated experience, with only two human staff around in case of emergencies.  

However, it isn’t all as lonely as it may seem. On July 18, Paris will transform the River Seine into a floating cinema in order to throw outdoor entertainment a rubber ring and keep it afloat.

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