As the humanoid robots are becoming more and more common, fembots are becoming the new trend in robotics. It raises some questions: do robots need to have a human face? Can robots become feminist? As some of these new robots are becoming pop-star or actress, some of them risk to fall into prostitution. Welcome to the merciless world of female robots!
As I said, fembots (or gynoids) become more and more popular these days, thanks to a lot of improvement in hardware in particular. The actuators (the robots' muscles) are becoming small enough that the engineers can start caring about the design and the look of their creatures.
The first female robot I have heard about is Aiko. It was created in a Canadian garage by Le Trung. The goal is to create the perfect home robot: always kind, do all the chores, and pretty by the way. Of course, such projects don't come without their polemics. And when Le Trung added some touch sensing on the body, even on some private parts, it made some noise. But don't worry though, Aiko would slap any man who tries to touch her chest (even the creator? I'm not sure).
A very good one is the actroid, which can be hired as a receptionist, usually for commercial events. You will always see her with big fake breasts and too shirt skirts. It's not the crazy phantasm of geeky scientists: just the weird fashion of Japanese girls. But what can the actroid do? It is good to speak with some natural gestures, but I've never seen it walk: I don't think it can. It is now getting famous for its actress debut in Japan in fall 2010.
Still, a fembot is cooler if it can actually walk. That's one thing that the HRP-4C can do. It is not the sexyest robot but it moves a lot more naturally. It is now the coolest dancing robot, as it starred in a pop show... in Japan again. This gynoid can dance and sing and do a few other things. It's one of the best humanoid robot so far: though its hands are a little too big, and the movements are still limited by the hardware, it gives hope that we can have very efficient humanoid robots by 2020.
Finally, for a total change, let's not forget to mention femisapien, the little fembots from WowWee. It can dance with some mp3, learn new motions and do some other cool things. In the end it's just a toy though, so don't ask it too much. But if you are looking for a real high-tech doll for your kid, this may be the perfect gift.
Do we really need gender in robots. I don't think so. But as many roboticist dream of creating "the perfect creature", some problems will arise in the future. There is already the sex robot Roxxxy that has been created to satisfy all of man's "needs". If you think of it, it's just the latest version of the sex doll: it has always existed and always will. It won't be any more difficult than before to just ignore it.
The real problem is if someday robots become so realistic that when you meet a new person, you have to ask him/her if he/she is living !!? Imagine you hit on the seller in your favorite cloth shop, before you realize it was a robot... I really think that genderless robots like in the iRobot movie are safer (euh... as long as they're not manipulated by the super intelligent computer that wants to "protect humans from themselves", of course). If you think of it, Star Wars robot C3PO doesn't need a flesh-like body to feel human: the way it expresses emotions makes it able to have good contacts with people already.
So there will always be some excess, especially with fembots. Let's just hope that most people will keep some common sense and know where to set the boundaries. And as we know, we can trust humankind for that (right?).
Other pages that may interest you:
Honda robot Asimo was one of the first fully functional humanoid robots ever made. Even today it can still do many unique things.