Finally, Osaka University’s infant robot Affetto is able to hug you like a real baby, with the added benefit of paralyzing you with terror. A year and a half ago, Affetto wasn’t much more than a face, but a video from the university’s Asada Laboratory discovered by Plastic Pals shows a newly-limbed and skinless Affetto using his newfound freedom to swing his arms around. Things get even more unsettling around the 40 second mark, when Affetto gets draped in a grey hoodie, before finally having his face returned to him. The improvements to the robot include 20 pneumatic actuators, which allow him to freely move his arms, neck, and spine.
The project falls under the umbrella of "cognitive developmental robotics," which uses robotics to study human development — in particular, the interplay between caregivers and developing babies. The laboratory’s site explains, "interacting with the environment and people nearby is an important factor in development. In order to create the same conditions as with a real child, we’re developing a child robot that’s the same size, with a soft body, rich facial expressions, and small hands."