Click to viewAdd fashion models to the list of professionals who could find themselves replaced by robots in the workplace. The Hyogo Prefectural Institute of Technology has introduced Manekin Robotto, a programmable robot designed to tread the catwalk. After the jump, we examine how this mechanical model stacks up against the flesh and blood version.
Physique: At 160 cm (approximately 5'3") Manekin Robotto stands a good head below the recommended 5'8" for female models. She's also surprisingly flat-chested and, let's face it, a bit on the hippy side. But she wouldn't be the first model in the industry to require implants and a little cosmetic soldering.
Weight: The robot model tips the scales at just over 66 pounds and rates a body mass index of 11.7, a number low enough to make human catwalkers vomit with envy. Unfortunately, it might also bar her from the runway. Following the malnutrition deaths of three models last year, European show organizers have required that models have a BMI of at least 18 to walk.
Cost: Despite the accompanying glitz and glamour, models in the US earn, on average, a mere $10.83 an hour. But even that paltry amount can't compare with Manekin Robotto's low, low price of $940. And that's just the beginning of the savings. Robots don't need to be schmoozed, run on far less blow, and tend not to complain when you fly them as cargo.
Appearance: Sadly, Manekin Robotto is cursed with a face only an engineer could love. Although not every fashion model is a classic beauty, Manekin Robotto's cubic head and visible wires commit the cardinal sin of fashion: they would distract you from the clothes.
Verdict: Little more than a walking coathanger, Manekin Robotto won't be getting the Tyra Banks seal of approval any time soon. But given that the robot model is economical, can be controlled from a PC, and is unlikely to hurl cell phones at assistants, models may find themselves looking over their shoulders on their next trip down the runway.