No, these aren't likely to be gracing the head of a kawaii-neko-chan cosplayer anytime soon. However, they might just help robots
get a little bit better at dealing with sound.
Currently, most robots that have microphones rely on either strategically placed ones, or a network of audio inputs to capture sound. However, nature has already demonstrated a pretty fantastic design with cup-shaped ears to help focus in on sounds. In the research behind these ears, called Active Soft Pinnae for Robots
by Makoto Kumon
and Yoshitaka Noda
, an accurate assessment of a sound's location can be made with only two audio inputs. Also, because the ears can move independently of the robot, they're more efficient at locating sounds. The upshot is that with ears like these, robots could home in on sounds better, and look cuter doing it.
Though they do look eerily familiar, don't they?