A life-like humanoid robot that bears a scary resemblance to former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin has been unveiled at the Global Mobile Internet Conference 2015 in Beijing, China.
YangYang is a robot that resembles a middle-aged Caucasian woman and is able to talk, move its head, shake hands and even hug a human.
The android robot was designed by the Shanghai Shenqing Industry (SSI) working in collaboration with Japanese robotics expert Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University's Department of Systems Innovation who has been developing robots for over 20 years.
While she looks like Palin, YangYang is actually modelled on Song Yang, a Chinese researcher working with SSI, and the robot features skin made from a special type of silica gel to replicate the texture of human skin.
"After they made one of me, I got all these really amazing feelings. For instance, because I feel it's like me, if when she's performing her movements, expressions are not ideal, if she doesn't do it well, I'll feel it's a real shame," Song, who went onstage with her robot doppelganger, told Reuters.
Ishiguro recently told IBTimes UK in Singapore that he believes robots will one day replace pop stars and Hollywood actors.
"There are many possibilities, for example an idol singer [pop star]. An android robot is more beautiful, probably, and they never get tired and can keep singing songs forever," he said.
"And how about a fashion model? Or newscasters and receptionists – even famous movie stars. Androids never get old and so you can keep a young identity by creating an android that will last forever."
The rise of the humanoid robots
Ishiguro is a pioneer in his field and first gained worldwide acclaim in 2010 when he created an android robot version of himself that was able to lecture students at Osaka University.
Then in June 2014, he unveiled Otonaroid and Kodomorid – an adult female android robot and a female child robot – at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan) in Tokyo.
His permanent exhibition set the world buzzing and unnerved many as the robots look almost exactly like the humans they were modelled on and are meant to make people re-examine what it means to be human.
There are several other companies in the world who are also working on realistic humanoid robots, such as Toshiba, which has worked with Ishiguro on ChihiraAico, a Japanese woman hostess robot.
Hanson Robotics has also created a humanoid robot head called Han that can detect and understand people's facial expressions, hold a conversation and respond appropriately with its own expressions, and the US Navy is trialling a robot firefighter that can save lives on its warships.