Mechanical Sidekicks Show Softer Side Of Robotics
By now, you’ve probably seen Boston Dynamics’ ATLAS, the six-foot, 330-pound humanoid robot that is part of DARPA’s robotics challenge. While this machine is one of the most advanced humanoid robots out there, it’s not exactly the type of creation you’d want to bring home to play with the dog. To be fair, it hasn’t been designed to be your buddy. Rather, top among its purposes is to assist soldiers on the battlefield and accompany first responders during disasters.
There are, however, a number of robots that may not be as capable as ATLAS, but would be more fun to see wandering around the house. Click through to learn more about the bots in the GIFs above.
ASIMO, a humanoid robot created by Honda, has been around for a few years, but engineers keep improving it year after year. ASIMO is one of the most coordinated robots out there—it can run faster than five miles per hour and balance on one foot. It’s just four feet tall, but Honda says its height is perfect because the robot is eye level with a seated adult. The main goal of ASIMO is to eventually be used to assist people who have limited mobility.
KIROBO is a Japanese robot that was developed with the intent to usher in a wave of robots that can easily communicate with people. In August, KIROBO was sent to the International Space Station to talk with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. KIROBO’s first words in space were, “On August 21, a robot took one small step toward a brighter future for all.”
NAO robots are small humanoid machines built on an open-source software platform. They come equipped with cameras, microphones and touch sensors. They can also be connected to the Internet, which means they can do things like look up Wikipedia articles for you, give you a personalized weather report and even stream Internet radio. There are a number of educational projects the NAO robots are involved in, including one called Autism Solutions for Kids (ASK). The ASK project was started because children with autism respond well to technology, leading NAO developers to send the robots into classrooms to “support teachers with in-class tasks, facilitate communication with parents, and therefore help children with autism reach new levels of greatness,” according to the developers.
iCub is being developed to reach cognitive levels on par with a human child. According to its developers, it’s the first humanoid robot that has both open-source software and hardware. iCub was first developed in Italy at the Italian Institute of Technology and is currently being used in 20 different robotics laboratories across Europe. One of the main goals of the iCub project is to advance “embodied cognition,” a field of artificial intelligence that explores whether a robot’s physical body can help it learn from its surroundings and eventually behave and interact like a human.