Humanoids require a lot of human attention.
“Saturday Night Live” aired a skit last night parodying a Honda showcase of its humanoid robots. The robots, played by actors, were obnoxious, loud, malfunctioning and demanded an untenable amount of attention from the humans in the room.
It was funny because it’s true.
The humanoids spoke with the host of the showcase with canned replies and hackneyed requests for a high-five and a fist bump, which — for anyone who has seen humanoid demos — is all too familiar.
Most social robot demos are facilitated by a person called a “robot handler,” whose sole purpose is to keep the robots photogenic and to make sure their functioning isn’t foiled by their own poor design.
Leslie Jones, who played the robots’ handler in the parody, had to regain control of the machines as they wreaked havoc on the guests. Jones ended up knocking one of the robots down, while another wouldn’t stop asking Kate McKinnon if she wanted a quesadilla.
Honda has been working on bipedal robotics since 1986, and the SNL skit is inspired by their latest iteration, Asimo, which the company says one day may be used to assist people with mobility issues.
Here’s a video of the real Asimo.