As the Bond Babes in 007 movies have taught us, there are softer and more devious ways to get close to your enemy. For several years now, the decidedly strange Project Aiko has been popping up in news stories about odd developments in the robotics world. Developed by Canadian inventor Le Trung, Aiko is a humanoid companion robot that can read newspapers, check the weather, discern among individual faces and ... um ... be tickled.
"It actually starts back in the '70s during my childhood, where I spent a lot of time watching Japanese anime, which often featured robot themes," Trung writes on his official Project Aiko homepage. "It is currently impossible to build robots that will have the same feelings and emotions as us, but we can start by building a robot that looks human and does artistic human things such as read music and sing for us."
Project Aiko has never gotten much traction in the scientific world -- demos take place at hobby shows, not international conferences. But the story has gotten a lot of play in the media, and clearly reflects one man's vision of our robotic future.