The days of the salesman could be numbered as this eerily-lifelike robot muscles in on territory usually occupied by humans.
RoboThespian and SociBot are the children of Engineered Arts Ltd, and have been designed to interact with people in ‘compelling new ways’.
The creations are aimed at visitor attractions and science centres who are after an “engaging, exciting way of communicating”.
There are already around 101 of them around the world – 86 RoboThespians and 15 SociBots – in 23 countries. They are used, for example, as a platform for robotics research in universities and research facilities.
The robot duo work in a number of ways, through on-board sensors, an infra-red depth sensor and an on-board webcam.
These can process video to see if people are happy, surprised, angry or sad, roughly how old they are and where they are in the room.
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Marcus Hold, design and production engineer at Engineered Arts, says: “The robot will look around, make eye-contact as people go past, which is very powerful.
“If someone’s watching you, it’s hard to ignore. It draws you in.
“Then if the robot sees you’re surprised it can respond to that with some pre-programmed content.”
He added: “We aren’t aiming to replace sales staff – we’d be doing ourselves out of a job as well!”