Tech firm will pay you £150,000 to sell your identity to its robots

Robot manufacturer Promobot wants a friendly face for its next humanoid robot (Promobot)

Tech company Promobot is on the lookout for a face for its humanoid robot assistant to work in hotels, shopping malls and other crowded places.

The company is searching for a ‘kind and friendly’ face to be reproduced on potentially thousands of versions of the robots worldwide. 

The company is ready to pay £150,000 ($200,000) to anybody willing to transfer the rights to their face and voice forever.

‘Since 2019, we have been actively manufacturing and supplying humanoid robots to the market. Our new clients want to launch a large-scale project, and as for this, they need to license a new robot appearance to avoid legal delays,’ said Promobot, which claims to be the largest service robotics manufacturer in Northern and Eastern Europe.

The order for the humanoid robots was reportedly placed by an American company supplying solutions to airports, shopping malls and retail stores within North America and the Middle East. Hence the requirement for a ‘kind and friendly’ face.

The company is ready to pay £150,000 to anybody willing to transfer the rights to their face and voice forever. (Credits: TASS)

However, to be selected as the face of the army of robots, gender or age doesn’t matter. People of all genders and races over 25 can apply by responding to a request and filling out a questionnaire on the company’s website.

The new robot with the selected person’s face is slated to start its activities in 2023.

Promobot’s main products currently are the V.4 robot, which works at airports, universities, cinemas, museums, shopping centres, as well as humanoid droid Robo-C, which is also used in crowded areas such as museums and shopping malls.

While the company could have used a computer-generated created face, having an actual human to lend their features for the newest batch of machines would make them appear more lifelike. 

The winning applicant will first have to take a 3D model of their face and body for the robot’s external features. 

They will then ‘have to dictate at least 100 hours of speech material to copy your voice’, which will be used by the machine to communicate with customers.

After that, the winning applicant will have to ‘sign a license agreement’ that allows ‘the use of your appearance for an unlimited period’.

People of all genders and races over 25 can apply to be the face of Promobot’s new robots. (Credit: TASS)

Promobot isn’t the first robotics company to offer a huge cash sum for the rights to someone’s face.

In 2019, a privately funded firm, which chose to remain anonymous because of the project’s ‘secretive nature’, was giving away £100,000 to someone with a ‘kind and friendly’ face.

Giomiq, the company tasked with finding the right face, acknowledged in a press release that ‘giving away the rights to your face for eternity was potentially an extremely big decision’.

‘The designer knows that this is a big deal, and has agreed a fee of £100,000 to license the rights to the right face,’ it said.

Promobot has earlier been sued by Arnold Schwarzenegger for creating a look-alike robot without permission to use his face. So, it looks like it’s being extra careful this time around. The company’s robots have also previously been described as ‘a laggy iPad attached to a large, imposingly muscular metal chassis,’ by Gizmodo.

A female humanoid Promobot robot assists a visitor at a multi-functional document processing centre in Russia. (Reuters)

There are concerns that robots like this could be used for corporate or government surveillance. It’s unclear whether the person with the winning face will be informed of the robot’s potential uses.

‘Our company is developing technologies in the field of facial recognition, as well speech, autonomous navigation, artificial intelligence and other areas of robotics,’ said Promobot.

Promobot was reported to be a Russian startup but only lists offices in New York and Hong Kong on its website. Its robots work in 43 countries as administrators, promoters, consultants, guides and concierges, replacing or supplementing human employees. Their robots can supposedly be found at Walmart, Baltimore-Washington Airport and Dubai Mall. 

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