Beijing will play host to real-life R2D2s and C3POs when the World Robot Conference 2016 comes to town.
The conference consists of three events. There’s a high-level academic seminar, bringing together experts from around the world to debate the future of artificial intelligence. Perhaps of more interest to the general public will be the Robot Exhibition.
Among the androids on display will be “Jiajia”, created by Hefei’s University of Science and Technology in China to be the most lifelike robot ever. They describe her as a “Goddess”, but to us she looks like Queen of the Uncanny Valley:
Also making an appearance will be Pepper, the “emotional robot”. Pepper has been designed to understand and respond to expressions. My children met Pepper in Tokyo, and had fun dancing with him/ her/ it/ em. (We can only hope that the conference will settle the important question of which pronouns to use when referring to droids.)
Most exciting of all, though, is the World Robot Contest, the “Olympics of robotics”. Robots will compete in a series of events, including the Unmanned Driving Challenge, the Underwater Challenge, and, of course, the RoboCup, a thrilling soccer tournament.
Of course, the footballing robots are clumsy, slow, and prone to falling over. Yet, they’re still better than Wayne Rooney.
The World Robot Conference 2016 runs from Friday 21 October to Tuesday 25 October, at Beijing Yichuang International Conference and Exhibition Center.