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Why do we make robots look like humans? © Getty Images

Why do we make robots look like humans?

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Humanoid robots that aren't quite human enough can trigger feelings of revulsion.

Asked by: Roberta Wild, Lincoln

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We’ve always been fascinated by the idea of creating autonomous machines that resemble us, and if they need to interact closely with us, we prefer them to look familiar.

Human-like robots such as Honda’s ASIMO, Boston Dynamics’ Atlas, and the childlike iCub built by the Italian Institute of Technology are amazing demonstrations of our technology, but they still have a long way to go – and when they look nearly human but not quite, they end up looking seriously freaky to us.

Perhaps we should just let robots be the shape they need to be, in order to best carry out their function.

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Authors

Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.

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