Rise of the Machines – Top 10 Smart Humanoid Robots to Prove It
This humanoid robots piece is not about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Terminator series of Hollywood blockbusters—or when the next sequel is due. It is neither about Tesla Motors boss, Elon Musk’s, fear of a time when he perceives machines could outdo human thinking capacity and use the super-intelligence to “do awful things.” The kinds that’ll urge you to yell out stop making those things!
But, it could be about a time when automatons can have, and start rationally using, something very close to what makes humans really unique: common sense and the ability to learn.
And that time could be now, or just around the block.
The human mind and form is not only tricky to even portray in metal, wires, glass, and polycarbonate, but is also quite improbable to build in the foreseeable future (at least), the crafty process of mimicking human behavior is becoming bona fide and inevitable as humans and machines work ever so closely.
The Top 10 Humanoid Robots of 2016
Below are 10 “living” testimonials to the most advanced humanoid robots in 2016. Then decide if tomorrow just came in today. These include those already working in authentic life conditions in close quarters with humans to solve everyday problems.
How about starting with a Terminator-type humanoid, only, this time, it isn’t trying to terminate humans—it is aiming for the exact opposite.
ATLAS is Boston Dynamic’s unique creation. It can walk, run, climb stairs, talk, pick itself up from a fall, whack down a door and off its hinges, and do pretty much what a real human would do to save another person’s life. With his 1.88-meter (6ft, 2in), 156.7kg frame, the newest generation of ATLAS is more human than ever before.
Built principally to help rescue humans out of disaster situations, ATLAS is quite the sensation. It can walk into a blaze to unlock a locked door and unwrap people or valuables in a particular area where a human firefighter wouldn’t. It can as well access areas filled with poisonous gas and do the right thing—so to speak.
Atlas has arms, giving it the flexibility to use personal tools to get things done. It can lift a beam, maneuver around rough terrain and generally outdo emergency situations pretty well.
Check out the following clip and see for yourself:
She’s got a mind of her own!
Actroid-SIT is an Android. She can talk, gesture, maintain and lock eye contact like it was the most natural thing a robot would do. In fact, she can make as many as 18 gestures that include waving and pointing in a precise direction—for example, when a real human asks her for directions. She even moves her eyes towards the direction she’s pointing you to, which is as human as it gets.
Certainly one of the most personable humanoid robots in existence today, Actroid-SIT looks like a real Asian woman. Everything from the face, body shape, hair and clothing resemble a female human figure.
The company behind her designing, Kokoro of Japan, did indeed take a profound interest in the little things that humans do. For example, the addition of the new “interruptability” function ensures she can seamlessly switch to a new topic if the person she is conversing with does change topics—instead of just proceeding with the previous banter, which is socially awkward.
The function also ensures that she can handle a myriad of questions from a crowd of a couple of people—all the while almost naturally looking straight at the particular person who’s talking.
To make such waves, the Nara Institute of Science and Technology studied how people interacted with robots and developed measures to further improve the software in Actroid-SIT from the previous Actroid-F model and the more famous Geminoid F. Despite being a work in progress as of yet, Actroid-SIT is doubtless a hallmark of advancement in the development of humanoid robots.
Tech firm, Aldebaran came together with Japan’s SoftBank and created a 4-foot tall humanoid that can very well give a hug when it “feels” that you need, or do deserve one.
The Pepper Emotional Humanoid Robot has about 25 sensors and 3D cameras to help “read” its environment; including taking a record of the people it interacts with, situations and, yes, it does learn from those experiences. So Pepper is wiser for every day that passes—at least for the time his 14-hour battery life is still pumping.
Pepper will also recognize a person’s change of thought and feelings from the tone, inflections, and other subtle variations in their voice. That is thanks to a highly sophisticated, and rather techy, cloud-based voice recognition software embedded in it that puts iOS’s Siri and Android’s Google Now to shame.
In line with its primary mission to be a master of speech and human interaction, Pepper has a cool 20 actuators and three omnidirectional wheels that help him make some pretty human movements and fluid gestures.And now Pepper just joined high school in Waseda, Japan to learn the English language.
How about you heard it from Pepper yourself:
Clearly, we can’t get over the thought of having superheroes whoosh around in shiny underwear to rescue the trouble-stricken. So NASA went out and created an awesome Atlas-type humanoid robot that looks like a chrome version of Ironman—it was inevitable, wasn’t it?
Valkyrie is no plaything, though. The humanoid can get down on a dance floor as it did in a NASA video in December 2015. NASA’s creation is currently pretty slow, way slower than its film counterpart for winning over most people’s imagination, but is a big step from traditional humanoid robots that can’t even turn a valve.
Just like ATLAS, Valkyrie has no wheels for limbs. Instead, he has robust and flexible “feet and hands”, such that it pretty well can handle the stairs. It was also primarily meant to help with disaster situations, so it can take the stairs when the elevators aren’t working, and the situation is too risky for a human rescuer to intervene.
Watch Valkyrie in action here:
Honda has been hard at work on the humanoid side of things with its P-series of bipedal robots for more than a decade and a half now—since the year 2000.
All those years later, Asimo, the latest in the line of advanced, walking, running and “social” humanoid robots out of Honda, is one of the best and most popular prototypes of the changing tech scale in 2016.
The new model can serve food on a platter and engage in a verbal banter, and actually, maintain a conversation, with a human. If the need comes, Asimo could run as fast as 6 km/hr, a significant improvement from the last model’s 4 km/hr. That is despite him being quite sizable with that hulk 1.8-meter and 55kg frame to tow.
Asimo, like most other humanoids in this feature, is powered by a portable, embedded battery and sophisticated computational and analytical algorithm that Honda hasn’t fancied about diverging just yet.
As for physical form, you’d mistake Asimo for a fully equipped NASA astronaut—with less baggage.
Check out Asimo in action here:
Aptly named after the Shakespeare character of the same name, Romeo is built to take care of real people in real life circumstances.
Not only can he serve food, and carry the platter around without dropping it, Romeo is designed to help the elderly in nursing homes and private homes from sometime this year—when final results of the trials of how gentle he can be show that he is in reality soothingly un-alarming.
Romeo is made in France and represents a new generation of humanoid robots that can “genuinely” show and demonstrate compassion. He is emotional, but the designers report Romeo will not be a cry baby. The Romeo project was started in 2009 and should show final results from 2016, after some 37 million Euros were invested in to get the feeling guy to live and help others live.Interestingly, Romeo is the bigger and stronger, albeit younger “brother” of the next humanoid robot in this listing. He is 1.4 meters tall, about the same size as an 8-year old boy, and weighs 40 kg.
Designed by Paris-based tech firm, Aldebaran Robotics, Nao is meant to help autistic children learn social skills. Nao is just 56 centimeters tall, and Romeo was built up from his stature.
Though the researchers testing him at Vanderbilt say the simply-designed face of Nao is intentional, and meant to not “over-stimulate” the children, Nao looks pretty human—only clad like a fashionista astronaut, and may even pass as a Star Wars toy. Everything is where it is supposed to be, “eyes,”mouth” speaker, limbs, back and rightly sized and crafted shoulders. After all, if you are to help children learn some social skills, you might as well try to look, talk and walk like one of them.
The latest model comes after six generations of Nao robots, including the modern academic research models and the Nao Evolution kind. For their usefulness, there are about 5,000 Nao humanoid robots sold around the world—and they are reportedly all active and working smart to win accolades, including that elusive “man’s best friend” tag.
Check out what Nao can do here:
This third generation humanoid robot stands in at 5ft 4in tall and weighs 70 kg, making it pretty human on the physical front. REEM-C can also walk (1ft per second) and talk, via the onboard microphone and speakers. Introduced in the 2010 REEM-B model, the current model comes equipped with
According to PAL Robotics, the makers of REEM-C, the humanoid robot is ideal for further studying how to improve human-to-robot interactions (emotional connection), grasping, walking and navigation, talking, and whole body balancing.
In the meantime, REEM-C humanoid robots have the goods to be active for up to 3 hours or standby for about 6 hours straight before needing about 5 hours at the mains to charge fully.
With the next-gen “REEM-D” anticipated to come out soon, we can only guess what the D in the line will be able to do that us humans pull off so effortlessly.
Watch REEM-C walk the walk here:
9. Ocean One Robo-Mermaid
Deep sea diving isn’t a sport, especially when you need to get as low as 2,000 meters below the surface to analyze a shipwreck, or delicately study coral reef and undersea archeology, for examples.
OceanOne was designed and build with these kinds of missions in mind.
OceanOne is different from its older underwater ROV brethren. It can do a whole lot more, much quickly and smarter—not to mention without losing balance, colliding with the object of study, losing information or worrying about what to do to cover the wiring to avoid contact with water.
OceanOne is about 5 feet tall and about the size of a human, which helps it to thrust through tight spaces to get to the location of research. The humanoid uses eight jet thrusters to move and maintain balance in the deep. It also has two arms, two hands, and a head full of smart sensors to help OceanOne make sense of the surroundings.
Also, the humanoid robot uses haptic feedback on the hands to “feel” things, and to help it not to crash destructively whatever fragile object it may interact it.
In a recent mission off the southern coast of France, researchers deep-dived OceanOne to an old spot studied and proven to have been the spot where King Louis XIV’s La Lune ship sank. The most popular scene was when OceanOne lifted a small (apparently valuable) vase from the wreck and put it into a safe net with human-like precision and care.
In another spot, the lead researcher remotely directed OceanOne to use arms to set himself free from a tight spot where thrusting backward had failed to work.
The lead researcher did help OceanOne get things done, alright. Still, this represents a motivating phase in robotics. One where a human can provide the intuitive and cognitive abilities that humanoid robots are still to acquire, to an advanced humanoid which can, in turn, complete a rather difficult mission for even the most well-trained human—the dive extended to about 100 meters deep and was some 20 miles into the sea. It is as if a real person was there while there truly wasn’t one.
10. RQ Titan
RoboBuilder’s RQ Titan can walk, sit/lay down, get back up and then play soccer. The Titan is powered by RQ servo motors, USB cameras for artificial vision, a gyroscope, a microphone, speaker, speech recognition software, Wi-Fi and, all that within its 10-kilo stature. It still can’t have any conversations, though, but the company says it is still a work in progress.
For brains, the Titan packs a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom chip for processing power which is backed up by 2 GB of DDR RAM and some 60 Gigs of SSD memory. Now, despite costing a considerable $30,000 it can only be active for as long as 30 minutes at a time—many thanks to its 18.5 Lithium polymer battery.
To Sum It Up
Can you buy one for yourself right now? While you don’t need to be studying at a prestigious university, or be of royal blood origins, to own and interact with one for a hobby, the high-tech robots are appallingly expensive. To put this in perspective, the majority of the top 10 humanoid robots of 2016 on here go for around $1800.
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