The Female Type (FT) is a humanoid robot designed in female proportions, and whose movements resemble a model’s. Tomotaka Takahashi, creator of FT even consulted a few real models during FT’s year of development. Personally, I think they’ve done a magnificent job. Both when it comes to shapes, color and general movement. But she’s made out of plastic and lacks facial features: What exactly makes her look feminine?
Of course, the question is only relevant if you’re not making an android. Repliee, for example, has the advantage of a face. No, the question here is what can be done to make robots — that look like robots — appear like they’re of a certain gender.
If we look only at the body and shape of the robot, there’s quite a lot that can be done to accomplish this. There’s a difference between the shape of the male and female body, but I’ve come to realize that many people can’t put their finger on what exactly it is that makes a female look female. So I drew up the fundamental figure drawings below for reference.
Notice that figures marked 1 & 2 have a bit of extra detail — a sixpack, curvy breasts, etc. This is fun to compare to figures 3 & 4 which contain the bare mininum, fleshed out shapes of the male and female body. Even without the curves of the breast and the sixpack of the man it’s remarkably easy to identify which is which. It all boils down the three shapes of the torso:
- Men have a 3 forms more rectangularly shaped than women
- Women have two trapezoids over and under the center rectangle
Note that my drawing of the top trapezoid is a bit exaggerated. In addition, most will know, but I’ll say it anyway, that women also have a curvier body — as can be noted on the drawings.
That being said, if we compare the drawing to the FT design, we quickly see that there are distinct similarities in form. While they went with a rectangle for the chest of FT (which doesn’t seem to hurt the overall design), the hips are kept wide, and they do a remarkably job with the color: See how the white color is curved against the black to emphasize the curves of the hip and legs. A brilliant move to efficiently draw out more curvy features of femininity.
Also, note that her feet are shaped like a shoe with heels, and that she has a breast-like bulge on the chest. Combined with the catwalking skills, the overall effect is a very obvious feminine presence. The video below shows FT doing the catwalk. Check out the poses! Clearly the winner of the humanoid robot elegance award, if it existed. (It should.)
On the mechanical side — FT has an onboard computer which controls 23 motors placed strategically in her arms, neck, legs and body. On a sidenote, Takahashi is planning on auctioning off one of the two FTs in existence: The starting price is $300,000 USD. Yeah, aesthetics often carry a heavy price tag.