Design article discusses whether the future of robots
shold be life-like androids or general-purpose humanoids. Hiroshi
Ishiguro argues for androids while Stephen Keeney, of Honda,
believes humanoids are
the way to go. For androids to be accepted in human society, the uncanny
valley must be bridged. This makes androids a more difficult and
expensive goal. Keeney argues that robots don't need to replace humans,
just serve as tools that make our life better, so a humanoid design like
ASIMO should work well. He also points out that years of science
fiction have led people, even children, to have a great deal of
acceptence of mechanical-looking humanoid robots. The article suggests
that eventually, the only difference between the two will be exterior
appearance, "take ASIMO's underlying technologies and apply
human-looking skin made of silicon with integrated piezoelectric touch
sensors and plenty of actuators for controlling facial features. You'd
get Hiroshi Ishiguro's Androids."
ASIMO would probably look very odd with human-looking skin. Most humans don't walk around with bent knees all the time.
I'm not expecting robots used in the home to appear looking exactly like human domestic servants, although they probably will be roughly anthropomorphic in shape with arms and something resembling a head. A cartoonesque appearance will probably be appealing to most people, with large eyes and expressive but non-threatening body gestures. Appearance will be very important, and something which looks too much like an expressionless machine probably won't be accepted very well.
Personally any robot I build or ever purchase will have look like a machine. Im all for making robots more human like but how far do you want to go?
Ive seen attempts to make robots more human looking and they just weird me out. The Asimo robot with the animatronic Eintein head on it made me shudder.
Although there is an appeal to human-like robots, I don't think they'll be the end to more artificial looking machines. Although people in general might be more comfortable with one or the other, the fact that there are people supporting both types shows that neither is universaly disliked. It's not like all robots need to be made according to the same design principles.
Also, I'd lke to say that the argument that anything "should be approachable and not be scary to children" is just silly. It's parents that are afraid of the strange and unfamiliar.
I suspect that the author's question might be intrinsically off-target.
Because of power and gripper dexterity issues, it is quite likely that the only bipedal robots that we will see in the home within the next decade or two will be toys.
That said, when it comes to toys, a strong case could be made for androids, humanoids, animaloids, fishoids, or even alienoids.
However, I would not be too bullish on plantoids or rockoids!