Japanese researchers on Monday showed off a robot that will soon strut her stuff down a Tokyo catwalk.
The girlie-faced humanoid with slightly oversized eyes, a tiny nose and a shoulder length hair-do boasts 42 motion motors programmed to mimic the movements of flesh-and-blood fashion models.
"Hello everybody, I am cybernetic human HRP-4C," said the futuristic fashionista, opening her media premiere at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology outside Tokyo.
The fashion-bot is 158 centimetres (five foot two inches) tall, the average height of Japanese women aged 19 to 29, but weighs in at a waif-like 43 kilograms (95 pounds) - including batteries. However, wasn't ready to help with daily chores or work side by side with people - as many hope robots will be able to do in the future.
"Technologically, it hasn't reached that level," said Hirohisa Hirukawa, one of the robot's developers. "Even as a fashion model, people in the industry told us she was short and had a rather ordinary figure."
"If we had made the robot too similar to a real human, it would have been uncanny," said one of the inventors, humanoid research leader Shuji Kajita. "We have deliberately leaned toward an anime style."
Ever since the term ''robot'' was coined from the Czech word for ''slave'' in 1933, human imagination has painted a possible future where mechanised assistants will emulate all human behaviour and satisfy every human need. However, accounts of artificial people date well before that - such as the mechanical servants built by the Greek god Hephaestus.
In the 4th century BC, the Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum postulated a mechanical steam-operated bird he called "The Pigeon". Hero of Alexandria (10-70 AD) created numerous user-configurable automated devices, and described machines powered by air pressure, steam and water. Su Song built a clock tower in China in 1088 featuring mechanical figurines that chimed the hours.
Science fiction, notably Isaac Asimov's, who also drafted the famous ''Three Laws of Robotics'', and popular movies have propounded the possibility of a future populated by human-like robots. Now, robotics is set to invade the stratified world of high fashion with the HRP-4C.
The big challenge in creating HRP-4C was making the parts small enough so it looks female, especially its thinner legs, said Shuuji Kajita, who leads the institute's humanoid research group. "But this is just the first step," he said.
The institute said the robot "has been developed mainly for use in the entertainment industry" but is not for sale at the moment. The robot may be used in amusement parks or to perform simulations of human movement, as an exercise instructor, for instance.
Hamming it up before photographers and television crews, the seductive cyborg struck poses, flashed bright smiles and pouted sulkily according to commands transmitted wirelessly from journalists via bluetooth devices. The performance fell short of flawless when she occasionally mixed up her facial expressions - a mistake the inventors put down to a case of the nerves as a hail of camera shutters confused her sound recognition sensors.
The preview was a warm-up for her appearance at a Tokyo fashion show on 23 March.
The robotic framework for the HRP-4C, without the face and other coverings, will go on sale for about 20 million yen ($200,000) each, and its programming technology will be made public so other people can come up with fun moves for the robot, the scientists said.
Japan boasts one of the leading robotics industries in the world, and the government is pushing to develop the industry as a road to growth. Automaker Honda Motor Co. has developed Asimo, which can walk and talk, although it doesn't pretend to look human.