Robotics Startup Offers $200,000 for to Make Robots With Your Face and Voice
Robotics startup Promobot is offering a big check for the right to make a robot with someone’s face and voice. The company will pay $200,000 for perpetual rights to a face and voice to replicate thousands of times as part of its customer service-focused humanoid robot.
The humanoid robots are usable in several environments, according to Promobot. The specific demand for a face and voice is supposedly for an American company that wants to bring Promobot’s Robo-C robots to malls, airports, and other public venues in North America and the Middle East. The Robo-C has a human face compared to the more traditionally robotic look of its V.4 device, though they share largely the same capabilities.
The company said that age, gender, and race are not deciding factors in picking the face and that anyone over 25 can apply for the role on their website. The company will make a 3D model of the winner’s face and body and the person chosen will need to dictate more than 100 hours of speech to produce a synthetic version capable of saying anything Promobot’s clients wish. The robot based on the chosen person’s appearance and voice will then start appearing in 2023.
“Since 2019, we have been actively manufacturing and supplying humanoid robots to the market. Our new clients want to launch a large-scale project, and as for this, they need to license a new robot appearance to avoid legal delays,” Promobot explained in a press release. “The company is ready to pay out $200,000 to somebody willing to transfer the rights to use one’s face forever.”
The legal licensing focus is probably a consequence of the Promobot being sued by Arnold Schwarzenegger for $10 million after making robots in his image without asking for permission. The company has something of a confusing background as well. Promobot is described as a Russian company, with a robotics plant in Vladivostok and the use of Yandex Maps to show where it operates backing that up. At the same time, the company’s only offices are in New York and Hong Kong with the website calling Promobot the largest European maker of robots.
Humanoid robots are complex and difficult creations that several companies are struggling to overcome. Softbank semi-retired the humanoid robot named Pepper recently partly for that reason. Meanwhile, Amazon’s new Astro robot sports a smile as essentially an Alexa device on wheels after more than 800 people spent four years working on it. Even a successful humanoid robot like Grace, built by SingularityNet, is only the head and upper torso of a woman, not a fully mobile humanoid. Elon Musk recently claimed a humanoid Tesla Bot is in the works and that a prototype will come out next year, but there’s a lot of skepticism around that timeline.