Not only does this little boy have the honour of being the first kid to have his face painted by the University of Michigan's robot arm, but as far as I'm concerned, he's also the bravest little tyke I've ever seen. Updated: It's a prank.
Created by the university's Taubman College of Arts and Architecture, this robotic face painter is built from a Kuka KR100 HA L90 industrial arm that's strong enough to lift 90kg. So one wrong move and the last look on that kid's face would be absolute terror covered with a painted smile. That's why he's strapped into a specially designed restraining chair which in and of itself looks terrifying.
The team behind the prosthetic Picasso spent two months calibration testing the setup, which includes a custom-designed tool head with sponge brush and elaborate sensors to map the surface of the subject's face. I'm a little at a loss as to what the real-world applications of this creation might be — maybe department stores have been looking for a way to automate their cosmetic departments? I just hope they set aside some of their grant money for the day that kid goes into therapy after this experience. [Robots Painting Humans via NOTCOT]
Update: We've received a few reports via Twitter that this is actually a prank of some sort. If true, it's still one elaborate and terrifying-looking prank.
Confirmed: The following was posted to the Robot Paints Human blog confirming it was indeed a prank. And at their request we've pixelated the kids' faces.
Robot Paints Human is an elaborate hoax that was done as an experiment in using media to spread ideas about design. Thank you for the attention paid and we apologize for the deployment of misinformation in service of our design experiment.