She may look miles away from crossing uncanny valley, but Nexi from MIT's Personal Robots Group is at least on the way. She's designed to be a "Mobile Social Dextrous" machine that moves like we do when we express emotions. So, she's got fully articulated arms and a head with features that can be motored around to form expressions. Acting out emotions, she's actually rather amazing, in a slightly sad robot kinda way: the video may send a few chills down your spine, no matter how "artificial" Nexi looks now.
Nexi is apparently about the size of a three year-old child, with dextrous hands, arms that can lift up to ten pounds of weight and two-wheel balancing movement, a little like a Segway. Each eye has a colour camera, there's an IR camera in the forehead for 3D object perception and four microphones so sounds can be localised.
For now, Nexi is just a prototype, designed to explore human-machine interactions and social learning. It's not too hard to imagine a real product based on the design, though, is it? The team forsee robots like this having a role in healthcare, eldercare and education. [GizmoWatch]