Project

OVERVIEW

The Alter android line was developed in 2016 in order to research not what can be done by automation, but rather how human beings would react to an autonomous robot. It is being pursued jointly with the University of Tokyo and Osaka University in order to explore fundamental questions of whether robots can obtain a sense of life, and what life itself may mean.

Alter is not intended to be an android identical in appearance to human beings. Rather, only the face, neck, and arms up to the elbows are outfitted with prosthetic skin. The other parts are exposed machinery, with forty-two actuators (a computer-controlled system using compressed air) moving like joints. These movements are not pre-programmed, but rather based on a central pattern generator (CPG), which functions like the human spinal cord, and a neutral network of 1,000 simulated neurons that fire in real-time. In addition, optical and distance sensors allow for autonomous and spontaneous movement, creating a profusion of actions based on reacting to the surrounding people and environment. This results in unexpected movements even the developers could not foresee, and the memory of these actions in turn allows Alter to continue evolving.

The name Alter comes from the concept of internal change and transformation of the android, as well as the notion of a second self, or “alter ego,” and the idea of this being an “alternative” form of expression and life.

Alter 3 is the third generation in this line. New cameras have been installed in the eyes, and the mouth is now capable of producing sound, with dynamic movement also incorporated. In addition, it comes equipped with the ALIFE Engine™, our dynamics generation engine, with the operating system and all aspects of the robot software having been developed by our firm.

INSTALATIONS

DateTitleExhibitionPlace
2021-03From Mimicry to PersonogenesisOpenLabMiraikan, Tokyo JP
2019-11Alter3Future and the ArtsMori Art Museum, Tokyo JP
2019-05Alter3: Offloaded AgencyAI: More than HumanBarbican Center, London UK
2019-03Alter3: Offloaded AgencyKörperwendeNRW-Forum, Düsseldorf DE

PUBLICATIONS

  • Atsushi Masumori,Norihiro Maruyama and Takashi Ikegami. Personogenesis through Imitating Human Behaviors in a Humanoid Robot “Alter3” Frontiers in Robotics and AI7 p.165. 2020

  • Doi, I., Ikegami, T., Masumori, A., Kojima, H., Ogawa K., and Ishiguro, H. A new design principle for an autonomous robot, 14th European Conference on Artificial Life(ECAL2017), pp.490-466.

CREDIT

  • Alter series Hardware and Software Design and Development :
    Hiroshi Ishiguro, Kohei Ogawa, Takashi Ikegami, Itsuki Doi
  • Alter3 Software Design and Development :
    Atsushi Masumori, Norihiro Maruyama, Alternative Machine Inc.
  • Alter3 simulator development :
    mixi, inc.

CONTACT

Contact us for more information about joint research projects, product development, consulting, and other inquiries, as well as requests for lectures and interviews.