JAPANESE researcher Masahiro Mori's ''uncanny valley'' theory, which he developed in the 1970s, states:

That we react positively to robots if they have physical features familiar to us but they disturb us if they start looking too much like us........

WELCOMING ROBOTS into our homes and workplaces involves developing ''mutlipurpose machines that are capable of  interacting'' with humans without being dangerous, said Philippe Soueres, head of the robotics department at a laboratory belonging to France's CNRS scientific institute.

Human - but not too human : As such robots must have move around ''in a supple way'' despite their rigid mechanics and stop what they are doing in case of any unforeseen event, he added.

That's why people are choosing ''modular systems'' shaped like humans bodies'' which are meant to easily fit into the real-world environments built for humans.

For instance Atlas, a humanoid robot made by Boston Dynamics , can run on different types surfaces.

In Madrid, Marc Raibert, founder of the US firm, played a video showing Atlas doing a back-flip.

In a sign of fears over the potential future uses for these humanoids. Amnesty International has accused Atlas, financed by an agency of the US Department of Defense, of being a '' killer robot''  made for future warfare.

Another example of humanoids presented in Madrid is Talos, a robot made by Spanish company Pal Robotics shown testing his stability on a balance board.

While it may not be the only form used for those coming into contact with humans, ''it's easier for people to accept the robots when they have  human-like faces because people can expect how the robots will move, will react,'' said Kamide.

That's comforting, but it also has its limits.

''You can't even make a perfect human face'' and this imperfection provokes a feeling of ''rejection''  among humans, said Miguel Salichs, a professor at the robotics lab of Madrid's  Carlos III University.

As such, he chose to fashion his robot  Mini Maggie into a small cartoon animal. [Agencies]


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