Gitex 2021: Could Alex the robot pave the way for cyber version of Madame Tussauds?

Machine modelled on its creator Alex Yuzhakov may be first step towards an interactive celebrity robot museum

It may sound like a scenario from a Bond film, but an android designed in the image of its Russian creator is the most advanced robot yet on show at Gitex in Dubai.

The Robo-C machine is the Frankenstein of the future technology show and can respond only to simple commands. But it bears a striking resemblance to its manufacturer, Alex Yuzhakov, albeit with fewer grey hairs.

Called ‘Alex’, the humanoid has been created as a guest concierge service or as a security robot to allow access to restricted areas.

Its designers have even mooted the idea of bringing famous people to life in android form, inside a celebrity robot museum.

The idea may sound a little too much like the TV show Westworld. But while Alex’s face may twitch, his eyes roll and his lips move, he is not able to walk yet.

“Alex is a prototype of our CEO and his main feature is customer service,” said Jane Ezhova, international sales manager for Promobot, the largest service robotics manufacturer in Northern and Eastern Europe.

“He answers basic questions, can collect feedback and give people directions.

“Alex can be integrated with any third-party device in order to create some kind of access control system, for example.

'A next-gen Madame Tussauds'

“It can be integrated with access control cards and also with a video surveillance system using face recognition technology.

“This can be used inside a smart building, and we can see it being used as the next generation of Madame Tussauds 2.0 type museum attraction to bring famous people to life, like Donald Trump or Madonna.

“It would give people the opportunity to interact with their favourite celebrity.”

Russian firm Promobot is working to develop mechatronics, electronics, artificial intelligence and neural networks.

It is also programming bots in autonomous navigation and speech recognition, and is developing artificial skin and muscles as well as human-machine interaction.

A camera in the heart of Alex’s chest is fitted with sensors to detect someone’s face and begin an interaction.

Tiny microphones surrounding the camera pick up commands and instructions.

Promobot is working on inserting cameras inside the robot’s eyes so it can make direct eye contact with the person it is interacting with.

Currently, the Robo-C is limited as it only works with a script, with several answers selected at random. But that is likely to become more advanced as the technology develops.

“We have a special department based in Vladivostok that designs the skin, eyes and features of the robot to give it a lifelike appearance,” said Ms Ezhova.

“There are several robots like Alex in Russia and we are working on a creation of a robot with hands and fingers that move and react to commands.

“For now he is seated, but we are working on making him walk.

“Our main strategy is to enable these robots to help people at home.

Robots are already in a domestic environment to help with daily chores and this is the last mile of technology to make our lives easier.”

GITEX technology week - in pictures

Updated: October 19th 2021, 1:04 PM
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