Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. These were built to try out mechanical methods for reproducing the uniquely human bipedal gait. Much of that earlier theoretical research is now done, and research these days usually focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
Although some humanoid robots are built as standalone proofs-of-concept, many are being designed to interact with people. Some of these are very sophisticated and do a lot more than walk. They climb stairs and ladders, drive vehicles, and even play soccer, but they don't look particularly friendly. A few make me think of the rather intimidating Gort in the classic 50s sci-fi movie, The Day The Earth Stood Still.
For example, some of the humanoid rescue robots entered in the DARPA Robotics Challenge are not creatures I would want to meet after a disaster. Others are designed to be smaller and cuter for interacting with children and the elderly. These tend to have more fluid, natural movements. Some can anticipate human behavior and even speak.
Click on the photo of the DARwIn-OP bots below to start the slideshow.
The small size of DARwIn-OP (Dynamic Anthropomorphic Robot with Intelligence - Open Platform) is aimed at making this open-source robot more affordable to implement. At the same time, it's equipped with sophisticated sensors, a high payload capacity, dynamic motion ability, and advanced computational power, to make it attractive to educators and researchers as a development platform. Its design is based on the larger DARwIn series humanoid robots also developed by Virginia Tech. Several different software implementations are possible, including C++, Python, LabVIEW, and MATLAB. The robot is 455-mm-tall, weighs 2.8 kg, and is equipped with a USB webcam and Dynamixel motors from Robotis. (Source: Virginia Tech)
GTOlover, I know what you mean, although for me it's mostly movies. And BTW, like I told Liz, stay tuned for some really weird, really creepy, realistic bots. Since none of them are alive, I'd say it's more like engineering imitating popular culture. This has been going on for decades, that is, the replication of technologies seen in sci-fi in actual electronics, starting with engineers who grew up watching Star Trek. I think it's just getting weirder with the bots.
Ann, as I think about many movie and tv robots, it amazes me that most of these on the slideshow resemble one of them in a movie/show. CHARLIE reminds me of the robots in the Will Smith movie iRobot. Even the ED209 is evident in the bi-pedal robot.
Next we will anticipate a Data (as in the android from Star Trek TNG) being built and tested. And even the latest show called Almost Human seems to move to robots to a more synthetic approach. Put a head and skin on Kenshiro and how weird is that!
So is this life imitating art or art imitating life?
Interesting to see the reactions about Kenshiro. I find him fascinating as an example of what engineering can do, not just in the execution but in the inspiration that drives a design in the first place. And I think the sneakers are funny. So Kenshiro's not the one that scares me the most--that dubious honor goes to HUBO. I can't get over how much he reminds me of a much shorter Gort. I also find the DLR Biped and COSIMAN kind of creepy.
Kenshiro has sneakers, but no head? Looks like the skeleton king from Army of Darkness. Yikes!
However, it is great to see how far robots have advanced. R2D2 may not be serving drinks at my 50th birthday bash. As cell phones improve in computing capacity, I think robots will see huge advances. Exciting times!
You're right, Ann, I would fear some of these would "walk all over me" rather than rescue me! But it's a great slideshow, showing how far we have come from walking robotic toys. I find Kenshiro particularly terrifying, though. Still, I know these robots could have useful and very helpful applications if one can get over the uncanny valley effect.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.