Robot science achieved the zenith of craziness and awesomeness in 2012, thanks to the creation of a functional robotic butt (I don’t mean it defecates, but it acts like a butt otherwise). Although new technologies having to do with robotics and the eventual fall of mankind usually have me running in terror, this invention has me curious and ultimately not so scared of an impending robotic apocalypse. For the future now holds animatronic, thinking (responding, at least) butts!
To understand the wonder of this ass invention, all you need to do is search SHIRI on YouTube or Google and up will come an extremely creepy and mesmerizing video of this robot in action (which we have put below). That’s right, it’s called SHIRI (it’s not the iPhone monster Siri, although maybe, just maybe, if Siri had a posterior, SHIRI would be it). Along with the name, the creator places this subtitle in the video as well: “Buttocks Humanoid that Represents Emotions with Visual and Tactual Transformation of the Muscles.” Robot overlords, thank you.
The innovative keister technology was created by Nobuhiro Takahashi, and utilizes a Gluteus Maximus Actuator (GMA) for its weird movements. Weirdly, this robotic caboose is shaped like a real pelvis, and sports a rigid urethane skeleton (says Huffington Post and other terrified news agencies). When you look at it, you’re pretty much staring at a disembodied pelvis and butt, and what’s terrifying is that it responds to different kinds of touch. It’s as expressive as any real human, and exhibits responses via tension, shakes, and because it’s a robot, mechanical whirs. The actuator makes nightmarish robot noises, and feels the user with future dread; visually it’s a posterior, but you are able to hear the grinding of its inner clockwork. At one point in the video, some dude slaps and caresses the robot, and it reacts the way an actual butt would. The future!
So why post about this again, after just under two years? For one thing, the butt has appeared on news aggregator sites again (someone who shares my mixture of joy and dread for robots probably saw it and was like, “robot butt!”), and for another, more and more advances in robots are appearing at an alarming rate.
Huffington Post, in their 2012 coverage of Takahashi’s crazy blend of science, technology, and art, also alluded to Lovotics, a world of technology trying to synthesize robots and loving human emotion. Products coming out of Lovotics, a technological realm stemming from minds such as Dr. Hooman Samani (Artificial Intelligence and Robots Technology Laboratory and Taipei University), include miniature versions of people to aid in long distance relationships, and wearable machines designed to send and receive hugs and kisses. The future…?!?!
There are also robots not specifically designed for love surrogacy, such as the Double, an office aid that allows users to put their face on display via a screen on a moving stalk. Human interaction? Outdated to the extreme. Each year, technology is adding to the list of robotic creations that threaten to make us obsolete (why do movies like The Matrix have to have been right?). Weirdly enough, though, the invention of a robot butt gives me hope that an inevitable robot apocalypse will at least come with some form of fun booty times.
It’s difficult to really trace robotics and technology in general, at present, because innovation moves so rapidly that things like the robotic butt can be overlooked for some years before returning to social consciousness. The 2012 invention should serve as inspiration, in a way, because it is a work of technological art, more than other robots that simply take away human usefulness. Android haunches could get us back in touch with the physical world, as opposed to away from it (damn you, the interactive wonder zone of the Internet). Here’s hoping that the future of robotics is filled with more asses; sex surrogacy (like as seen in Spike Jonze’s Her) is less scary than militant robot overlords. The future? The future, indeed.