15 Robots That Project a Human Vibe

  • If the face of the Albert Hubo robot looks exceptionally lifelike, there’s good reason for it. Designed by South Korean scientists in conjunction with Hanson Robotics, the robot uses a soft material called Frubber for its face. With Frubber, Albert can ch
  • The feminine-looking humanoid robot called Miim (also known as the HRP-4C robot) was designed by Japan’s National Institute of Industrial Science and Technology to have the head, face, height (5’2” inches tall) and figure of the average young Japanese fem
  • Created by Boston Dynamics with oversight from the US Defense Advanced Research Agency, the Atlas robot was designed to navigate rough terrain and climb independently using both its arms and its legs. It’s big -- about six feet tall and 330 lb -- and is m
  • MIT-trained roboticist Heather Knight has made a point of designing robots that try to bridge the “creepiness” gap (also known as the “uncanny valley”) that people often experience with humanoid robots. Her company, Marilyn Monrobots, built this humanoid,
  • It’s not a humanoid robot, but Marilyn Monrobots’ Sensate Bear is aimed at integrating socially acceptable robots into society. The Sensate Bear accomplishes that with full-body capacitive touch sensors as a means of exploring real-time algorithms designe
  • Honda’s humanoid Asimo (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) robot has the ability to climb stairs, recognize faces, grasp objects, and carry on conversations. The culmination of almost 30 years of work on humanoids by Honda engineers, Asimo is designed
  • Topio, a bipedal robot designed by TOSY of Vietnam, is capable of playing Ping-Pong against humans. Early versions of the robot used hydraulic cylinder as actuators, but the most recent edition uses brushless DC servo motors powered by lithium-polymer bat
  • Unveiled in 2003, the pioneering Actroid was a humanoid developed at Osaka University. It was designed to have a strong human likeness and to be able to mimic human functions, such as blinking, breathing, and speaking. It also had the ability to recognize
  • BINA48 (Breakthough Intelligence via Neural Architecture) is said to be “a robot with a face that moves, eyes that see, ears that hear, and a digital mind that enables conversation,” according to Wikipedia. Developed by Hanson Robotics (also responsible f
  • Many people still consider humanoid robots creepy. The "uncanny valley
  • We’re not sure of the current status of Project Aiko, but it was originated by a Canadian roboticist who referred to it as a “dream computer robot.” The original goal was to enable Aiko to help the aging population to do simple tasks, such cleaning, makin
  • Fujitsu’s Enon robot was created to be a personal assistant. The robot, which went on sale in 2005, incorporated speech recognition, speech synthesis, and self-guiding technology. Designed to help Japan deal with declining birthrates and an aging populati
  • Created by PAL Robotics in Spain, REEM is designed to be a guide, entertainer, personal assistant, or robotic research platform. The five-and-a-half foot-tall robot was built with a mobile wheelbase that allows it to travel 4 km/hr. It also has 22 degrees
  • Developed by engineers at Vienna University of Technology and the University of Manitoba in Canada, Archie is a “teen-sized” humanoid robot designed to assist humans in daily life tasks. Its claim to fame is that it uses a “spinal system,” or motion contr
  • Designed by WowWee Toys, RoboSapien is a biomorphic toy robot that can be easily programmed to walk and do various tasks. Standing about 13 inches high and weighing 5 lb, RoboSapien is able to grasp small objects and even throw them. Wikipedia reports tha
  • Toyota has introduced five versions of its humanoid Partner Robot, which can be fitted with Segway-like wheels or legs. The bipedal versions have been known to run as fast as 7 km/hour. The robots also played drums and trumpets at the 2005 World Expo in J


Humanoid robots have traditionally played a bigger role in fiction than in real life, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. Universities, think tanks, and even toy companies have built programmable humanoid robots.

Increasingly, this new breed of robots can walk, run, see, hear, and even think. For some people, it's too close for comfort.

We'll let you decide for yourself. We've collected photos of robots with amazingly lifelike capabilities. From trumpeters to Ping-Pong players to robot comedians, we offer a peek at some of the world's most creepily human robots.

Click on the Albert (Einstein) Hubo robot below to start the slideshow.

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Design engineers, New England's premier design and manufacturing event, Design & Manufacturing New England , will take place in Boston, May 6-7, 2015. A Design News event, Design & Manufacturing New England is your chance to meet qualified suppliers, get hands-on with the latest technologies, be informed, and expand your network. Learn more here.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 31 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and autos.

April 07, 2015

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