Russian Company Creates Human-like Robots That Can Be Made to Look Like Anyone

A private company in Russia has launched the mass production of human-like robots that can be made to order with any appearance. The robots copy human expressions—they are able to move their eyes, eyebrows, mouths and "other muscles"—and they can answer questions, serving as a "companion," the company claims.

Promobot, the company behind "Android Robo-C" claims its human-like bot, which has a specially-developed artificial skin, has over 600 facial expressions.

"Everyone will now be able to order a robot with any appearance—for professional or personal use," Aleksei Iuzhakov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Promobot, said in a statement. "Imagine a replica of Michael Jordan selling basketball uniforms and William Shakespeare reading his own texts in a museum?

"We can build a linguistic model based on popular phrases of a particular person—the robot will communicate and answer questions by analyzing frequent expressions of the 'original' and using a certain context of knowledge of this person."

The company claims it has already had several private orders and it is currently in talks with other businesses looking to use robots for customer services.

The human-like Promobot robot. The company says it will be building about 10 of these robots per month. Promobot

Oleg Kivokurtsev, Promobot co-founder, told Russian state news agency Tass that they are planning to create 10 of these robots per month "with any appearance, for home and professional use," he said.

Promobot has made headlines a number of times in recent years.

In 2016 the company announced one of its robots kept trying to escape the laboratory. According to LiveScience, the company said it was considering decommissioning Promobot IR77 after its second escape attempt.

In the first, the robot made it 150 foot from the lab after a researcher failed to close a door properly. A few weeks later, Promobot said it had tried to escape again, despite it being reprogrammed. A number of outlets suggested the story of the "escape" was a publicity stunt.

In January, the company claimed one of its robots was "killed" by a Tesla Model S outside the annual technology convention CES, held in Las Vegas. The incident, which was widely reported, is speculated to have been a publicity stunt, Wired reports.

Meanwhile in April, Russia's Rossiya 24 started using a prototype of an Android Robo-C—which was modelled on Iuzhakov—for some of its news bulletins. According to the BBC, viewers complained the robot was used to peddle political propaganda.