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As film production across the globe halted amid COVID-19 crisis and several lockdowns to prevent the pandemic has already pushed the release of any fresh movies, film makers are now relying on robots, AI actors, as they are immune to Coronavirus.

A US-based flim financer, Bondit Capital Media, along with New York’s Ten Ten Global Media and Belgium’s Happy Moon Productions have teamed up to finance new Sci-Fi movie called ‘b’, which will have an Artificial Intelligence based Humanoid Robot named ‘Erica’, playing a lead role in the upcoming film with the budget of US$70 milllion.

The AI Actor’s name ‘Erica’ stands for “Erato Intelligent Conversational Android“.

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Erica with its creator, Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro.
Photo: Osaka University/ATR

According to Hollywood Reporter, the science-fiction movie will be the first to rely on an artificially intelligent actor.   The movie’s story is created by visual effects supervisor Eric Pham, Tarek Zohdy, and Sam Khoze.

The movie tells the story of a scientist who discovers dangers associated with a program he created to perfect human DNA and helps the artificially intelligent woman he designed — Erica — escape his lab. The story aligns well with Erica’s real-world origin story — her creators, Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa — designed her to study human-computer interaction, with Ishiguro even creating an android version of his own daughter in the past.

Created by Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories, Eric is an advanced android designed as a research platform to study human-robot interaction. It understands natural language, has a synthesized human-like voice, and can display a variety of facial expressions.

Erica is 166cm (in standing) tall and with 44 pneumatic actuators (Face: 13 DoF; Neck: 4 DoF; Arms: 9 DoF x 2; Torso: 3 DoF; Hands: 3 DoF x 2), it has forty-four degrees of freedom for face, neck, arms, and waist. It can express various facial expressions and some gestural motions. Erica’s appearance is designed for beautiful and neutral female face, by which people can familiarly interact with it. It speaks in unrealistic synthesized voice.

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Erica runs on ROS, Java and Python. It has 2 CMOS cameras and 2 microphones in the head.

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