Want to know what Tomotaka Takahashi has been up to for the past year? He has designed a humanoid bot that will be sent to the Kibo Experiment Module in the International Space Station this summer. He stands 13.4" tall and weighs about 2.2 lbs., and comes equipped with a camera and software. While hanging around with human astronauts, he will send back images and deliver Twitter and voice messages to Earth to astronaut Koichi Wakata.
Still awaiting a clever nickname (not to mention something more than a sketch,) the astrobot is also meant to relieve stress and combat the isolation that the those in space sometimes feel. A second model will be kept on our planet for demonstartion purposes.
Disney was one of the first to use automatons, including Country Bears and Presidents of the United States. So, it is not surprising that they are becoming more advanced in their technology. One of their latest is a humanoid bot that can play catch, juggle and look disappointed when there is no one to play with. What started as a project with a Kinect morphed into the robot with an Asus Xtion Pro Live camera for tracking. They took it as far as getting him to turn his head when participating with a human. They also programmed the catchbot to react at a dropped ball. Future plans include supplying one to each Disney park location.
HEARBO (the HEAR-ing roBOt) has the unique capability of being able to distinguish all kinds of sounds from voices to sound effects. Utilizing HARK technology, it can distinguish those sound by localizing, separating and recognizing them. The bot is so talented that it can already identify 4 different sounds within 1º of accuracy. This gives HEARBO an advantage as a service bot since it can will when to answer a doorbell or feed a whining child. The video also shows his ability to turn on and off music, adjust the volume and wave his arms a bit to keep time.
Dr. Guero's Primer-V2 has already learned to ride a bike and walk on stilts, so it's really no surprise that the robotocist taught programmed him to walk a tightrope. His feet have a slit in them for the cord and keeping his balance was a special challenge. The humanoid was built out of a Kondo KHR-3HV hobby kit and while the clever bot may not make it across Niagara Falls, it's still fun to watch him maneuver on that 4mm wire suspended a meter above the floor.
Accrea Engineering, working with Technische Universität München, ETH Zürich, and the University of Salzburg, has done a 360 with the social Iuro (Interactive Urban Robot) that is sent outside with absolutely no knowledge of its surroundings or any form of GPS. So instead of being a guide, he asks humans to help him navigate around the area.
The bot has a large body with shock-absorbing wheels that work on almost any type of surface. His head is packed with 21 actuators to control face movements while stereo cameras and a Kinect sensor helps him interact with those he meets. Introduced at the IROS Expo in Portugal earlier this month, he is currently practicing on unassuming humans. Let's hope that as the project continues, Iuro becomes a little less disturbing in his facial expressions.
Can't get enough Gangnam? Then take a look at Virginia Tech's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory's (RoMeLa) CHARLI-2 that has the audacity of simulating the basic steps in its Autonomous Shipboard Humanoid. The bot is usually found at RoboCup soccer matches but we guess that the 4 1/2 ft. tall ASH just needed to take a break from the sport and kick up its heels dance.
Robosavvy is a company that is attempting to make HRIs more social. Their
SavvyBot is a software platform that, used in conjunction with a NAO, interacts with humans via search and social networking. The receptionbot addresses passers by and will friend the human via Facebook. It then offers a picture opportunity, analyzes Likes and makes comments about them, and perhaps dances to a fave tune. The software is available to those who are looking replace a human in such areas as reception and information.
Those who are lucky enough to attend South Korea's Yeosu Expo 2012 will be treated to about 70 robot buds including Mero, EveR-4 and DARwin-OP. Daewoo created an aquarium with a school of fishbots. The event runs May 12 - August 12 and also features music, live aquariums, a 3D virtual cyber experience, cultural performances, displays and of course plenty to eat. Tickets are still available for $30.00 for adults and $9.00 for kids and seniors,
Remember AFFETTO, the creepy baby robot head? Let's throw a creepier party as his creators from Osaka University have just given him a torso. He will still be used in behavioral experiments as his 22 pneumatic actuators can provide a certain amount of flexibility. Future generations should include lifelike skin and body movements, a real body temperature and perhaps the ability to smell. Legs would be good, too. The ultimate goal here is to build a "realistic child robot with a muscle-skeletal system" or what we like to call a definite oxymoron.
The Korean Institute of Industrial Technology's Robotics Fusion Research Group is up to the fourth generation of their gynoids. The EveR-4 was originally created in 2005 and is becoming more humanlike with changes such as a head with 30 motors that creates more realistic expressions. This 5' 11" android was designed to interact with people or give out information.
KITECH Team leader Dr. Dong-Wook Lee says that there is not much call for a bot that can speak well but not walk or talk autonomously, but they can be useful in the area of arts and entertainment. Future KITECH generations will hopefully be less expensive, more self-sufficient and will be able to speak in more than a robotic monotone.
Researchers from the University of Hertfordshire in the UK believe that a robot can learn language just as infants do. They built DeeChee, a 3 foot tall humanoid that was able to produce any English syllable, but no words. Because he (although considered gender neutral,) was programmed to recognize encouragement, it helped him to learn to form words. Humans were used to teach DeeChee simple words for shapes and colors as they would any infant.
Study leader Catherine Lyon claims that part of the difficulty is that because some connective words like "with" or "of" are spoken in different ways, they are more difficult to recognize, while concrete words, like nouns or colors, almost always come up the same.
Have a spare $400,000 to invest in a humanoid? Then you can be the proud owner of HUBO 2, a product of the KAIST Hubo Lab that brought us the FX-1. Dr. Jun Ho Oh and team built the bot by creating the hardware first knowing that the software can be added later. In development during the last ten years, HUBO 2 is fairly advanced but undoubtedly will someday give way to the next generation.
And just so you know that you are getting your money's worth, take a peek at the first video that features the humanoid tossing the opening pitch at a recent Cubs-Phillies game in Philadelphia. We also found this recent demonstration at Drexal University with 7 of them performing The Beatles tune "Come Together."
You may not understand the language but it is clear that the team of Russia-2045 is working on an Android torso that can capture the essence of a human. Only in the working stage for now, perhaps it will become a reality by its target 2045 date. The group is also working on a bionic arm that appears to be really natural in its movements. Note that the words "robot" and "android" are the same in both Russian and English.
This second video (in English) shows that the researchers are busily into Nano Bio Info Cogno Genetics Technology and they sure do a mean promotional glimpse of the future. Their civilization paradigm sees humans morphing into the next generation of avatars and cybernetic immortality, aka neo humanity. Yeah, okay.
Tokyo's University of Electro-Communications built Shiri, which literally means buttocks in Japanese. It difficult not to make wise cracks here so we will let them explain it:
"Shiri" is a buttocks humanoid robot that expresses various emotions with organic movement of the artificial muscles.
Example emotions such as "Tension", "Twitch" and "Protrusion" in attempt to express emotions on buttocks were added to SHIRI.
This project has two main points, one is the innovative use of robotics technology and its purpose. And second is to raise the argument as to what perceptions will be manifested in the minds of people who communicate with SHIRI.
Hmm. If you can make it through all 3 minutes and 51 seconds of the video, then you are surely one of those that agrees with New Zealand researchers Ian Yeoman and Michelle Mars that robot hookers will arrive by 2050.