Hello everyone! Today, I am going to write a post on humanoid robots, as usual, I am late in updating a new post on Hackers Den (it is becoming more and more common now, I am forgetting that this is the reason for what I am today, I better start not take it for granted). The main reason why I was not posting for many days was being completely busy with the travel and draining up my schedule. The 24-day China trip and then shifting to Bangalore to live a loner life and managing myself all alone (Long story, will write about it in my personal blog soon). Anyway, coming back to today’s post topic Humanoid Robots, what do you infer from that two words? You guessed it right, human-like robots — Simple Definition, but let us dive into details of it. So today I will be telling “What humanoid robot is?”, “What is the future of it?”, “Top 10 Humanoid Robots” and many other pieces of stuff. Let’s get started!
What are Humanoids?
Before diving into robotics, let us first understand what is a humanoid? It is a mixture of two words human and oid. Human means, you know that and oid means resembling. So Humanoid is something which resembles/appears like a human being without actually being one. It has characteristics of human beings like walking upright, hitting someone, speaking and all the other abilities of human beings, but it is not actually a human being.
You might be relating humanoids with the increasing trend in robotics and might be thinking that humanoids were only developed for the field of robotics, but the truth is that humanoids were introduced as early as the 1870s where it was referred to the indigenous people (first/native people) in the areas colonized by the Europeans. Humanoids are something which was also used in mythology, science fiction, fantasy, ufology, robotics and a lot of other areas as well.
We will not be discussing the role of humanoids in each field, but only robotics (yeah, my knowledge is limited :p)
What are Humanoid Robots?
Humanoid robots are robots who look like human beings. To make it even simpler, Rajnikanth’s robot character in the movie Robot(Hindi version)/ Enthiran(Tamil Version) is an example of a humanoid robot.
Most of the humanoid robots exactly replicate human beings with a face, torso, eyes, upper body, everything designed in such a way that it exactly looks like a normal human being, but in some cases, humanoid robots are built only up to waist or in some cases, it will demonstrate only a part of the body, but that is fine, it solely depends on the architect of it- the way he wants it.
Humanoid robots are divided into two – male and female. The male humanoid robots are called Android and female humanoid robots are called Gynoid.
A Humanoid robot is fully automated and is programmed in such a way that it self-learns from the surroundings and whatever people say, like how a normal human being learn new things over a period of time by looking at its surroundings, understanding what is good and bad and basically all the things which he sees and learn from people around, likewise humanoid robots too learn from the surroundings and environment slowly and adapt itself to the surroundings in a period of time.
What are Humanoid Robots made of?
A lot of things are required to build a robot and a deep and extensive research is very much essential in order to build a robot with human-like features aka Humanoid Robot. Though a lot of things are required to build a fully functional human-like robot, the most important thing required is sensors. Sensors are one of the key thing required to build a robot and more importantly when you want to build a human-like robot. These sensors enable robots to function and think like a human, thanks to the technology developed, but still, we are developing it more and in future, it is going to be even more advanced and I believe you will find a hard time differentiating who is a real human being and who is human-like robot :p
The main sensors which are required to make these type of advanced Humanoid Robots are -:
- Range Sensor – It is used to measure the distance.
- Proximity Sensor – It is used to detect nearby objects present.
- Proprioceptive sensors – It used to be aware of speed, position and orientation.
- Accelerometers – It is used to measure the acceleration or speed.
- Tilt Sensors – It used to measure the inclination.
These are the major sensors required to make it function at least, though there is a big list of items required to make an advanced robot. There are some advanced robots who are capable of doing multitasking just like girls, cmon boys we know we cannot multitask, one thing at a time, if it is reading book, then it is only reading the book not playing game, whereas a girl can talk on phone, paint her toenail, eat something and even watch the soap opera on television, all at the same time, MIND=BLOWN. No, it is not my theory, it is a psychological theory. Anyway coming back, some advanced robots have this capability of doing multiple activities and can adapt to its surrounding and continue learning by itself.
An advanced robot can talk, run, jump, learn like human beings and can do all types of work from working at a factory to household chores with utmost perfection. They will be a tough competition for us for sure.
What is the purpose of having a Humanoid Robot in this world?
The main purpose, according to me, is replacing the work done by the humans; replace the humans to be more precise. Sounds scary? It is the truth, but you heard that people are developing it to give more ways to automation and ease human work, and improve more technology, all that nonsense is right as well.
Humanoid robots are soon going to be produced in a large number and are almost going to replace most of the human’s jobs, right from caretaking to doctors. Everything. But that is fine, right? Like robots will do all the work and we can relax a bit, for sure you can relax, but not for the whole life. You might be thinking you are controlling the robot, but the truth is, they will control you. There will be an end of the thinking capacity and creativity in humans, there will be no mistakes in the future from which we could learn and soon the process of the evolution to extinct will take place, I know, I am sounding paranoid and am scaring you as well, but this is what going to happen, not now, but 10-15 years later.
Top 10 Humanoid Robots!
She surely tops the list, why shouldn’t she? She is the first robot to get a citizenship in Saudi Arabia and yeah she is the one who told will eradicate the human race. Sophia is one of the most advanced robots created till now. Developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, led by roboticist David Hanson which tells Sophia will be a good fit to serve in the fields of healthcare, therapy, education and customer service. She is more of a social media sensation and has attained a celebrity status by appearing on major media outlets across the world like Forbes, New York Times, Mashable, you name it. She was even interviewed on “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” as well as on “CBS’s 60 Minutes with Charlie Rose”. She was activated on April 19, 2015, and made her first public appearance at South by Southwest Festival in mid-March 2016 in Texas. The robot is designed after actress Audrey Hepburn. Sophia uses artificial intelligence, facial recognition and visual data processing and also imitates human gestures and facial expressions, she is able to display more than 50 facial expressions as of now. She uses the voice recognition technology from Alphabet INC and is getting smarter day by day, the AI program in her analyses the communication and extracts the data which will allow her to improve responses in future, smart isn’t it?
Oh wait, it is not over yet, she is not alone, she has got ‘siblings’ as well, no they aren’t cousins, they were also developed by the same man who developed Sophia. The siblings are Jules, Albert Einstein Hubo, Professor Einstein, Alice, Philip K. Dick Android, Joey Chaotic, BINA48, Han, and Zeno. Huge family and you thought only humans had siblings.
No, ain’t a map. It is a humanoid robot developed by American Robotic Company – Boston Dynamics and is supervised and funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) which is an agency of the United States Department of Defense. He is 6 feet tall with a decent weight of 75kg, perfect body and 100% chance of stealing your girl, but don’t worry he was not developed to chase girls instead he was designed for a variety of search and rescue tasks. It was unveiled to the public on July 11, 2013.
It is equipped with two vision systems – Stereo Cameras and a laser rangefinder, both of them controlled by an off-board computer. It has got 28 joints and can walk through tough terrain and climb independently and in its latest update, it could also withstand being hit by projectiles and balance on one leg. It is electrically powered and hydraulically activated. It can also open doors, get in or out of a vehicle, jump on the boxes, turn 180 degrees while jumping, do backflips, walk through tough terrains, even snow, its programmed in such a way that its sensors can detect objects and avoid obstacles and move objects.
It is developed in order to be of a help in emergency services such as search and rescue operations, performing tasks like opening doors, shutting off valves, operating powered equipment in places where humans cannot survive. The US Department of Defense has stated in 2013 that it will not use robots in an offensive or defensive way, let’s see.
An upgraded version of Atlas, by the name Atlas Unplugged which was unveiled in 2015 is packed with lots of upgrades and the developers have claimed that it is nearly 75% different from the original Atlas. It is more energy efficient, stronger and skilful from its predecessor. It is voted as the robot which is most likely to destroy humanity, in his latest upgrade it is also equipped with a kill switch, I hope nothing bad happens. This upgraded version is most likely to be used in a battlefield or doing some dangerous operation.
A French Robotics company, Aldebaran which is dedicated to developing helpful humanoid Robots, has billed their first humanoid Robot “Pepper”, which is exclusively considered to live with humans. Pepper is programmed to communicate with its human hosts through voice, touch, and emotion.
This means that if Pepper finds someone sad nearby, the robot will pick up on that and will try to cheer them up. Well, the way it attempts may vary from person-to-person, but it can be anything from cracking up a few jokes to playing uplifting music.
An interesting fact about this humanoid robot is that it is designed to learn more about the people around while communicating with them, which means when a person communicates with Pepper, it will come to know their tastes and personality. So, basically consider it as a robot that is programmed to become a human’s best friend.
Intel unveiled a robot recently which goes by the name of Jimmy. The research version of the droid will be marketed around $16,000 but the consumer-grade Jimmy costs around $1,600, and this can be constructed almost through the use of #D printer.
Once he is cobbled together, this robot will become a stalwart companion to its owner. In fact, this robot is the one which can do everything from fetching food and drink to tweeting. Tech savvy individuals particularly can even program their own applications and routines for Jimmy.
A list of humanoid robots without mentioning Asimo is incomplete. Asimo is the first Android to capture people’s imaginations and the first one to introduce the idea of practical humanoid robots to the prominent consciousness.
ASIMO is the acronym of Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility. This robot is three-foot tall and resembles a cross between a space suit and an iPod.
On the hardware side, the platform features a number of sensors, operating time of several hours on one charge and full 57 degrees of freedom. This robot can walk up and down stairs, pick up, manoeuvre and manipulate objects. This robot was the first robot with the ability to run.
Looking upon the software side, the robot comes with a variety of party tricks that include the ability to respond to voice commands, turn to look at noises, perform speech synthesis, identify simple hand gestures and map its environment for navigation.
The latest version of Asimo has gone through many iterations, but it is ultimately an incremental enhancement of the original Asimo, which was one of the first humanoid robot ever.
(We are not very sure about this picture)
If you are unaware of the Dunning-Kruger effect, which is a cognitive bias in which an individual is so incompetent that they get to believe themselves as skilled. Unfortunately, this is a very human trait and the individuals who suffer from this are genuinely unpleasant to be around.
Recreating this bias, the scientists at Carnegie-Mellon have successfully created a robot called Victor with this cognitive effect. This so-called “Unpleasant little robot” has a digital face, which is modelled after real-world hipster-lobs insults at everyone, it plays against and essentially throws a temper tantrum when he loses a match. Such a loser kind!
The CMU robotics professor Reid Simmons explains “He is a terrible loser”, and also states that one of the things they have done in collaboration with the drama department is that they gave him different moods. When he finds himself ahead, he is into a happy mood and if he is losing he gets into an angry, aggressive mood and will trash –talk people while being self-depreciating.
Manav, India’s first 3D printed humanoid robot developed by Delhi’s A-SET Training and Research Institute. This humanoid is primarily meant for research and is made available to research institutes that offer robotics as a subject of study.
Manav is a two kilo, two-feet tall robot with an inbuilt vision and sound processing capability that allows the robot to walk, talk and dance just in response to human commands. Manav’s parts are all made in India, and the outer frame of the robot is made of plastic and is printed from A-SET’s own 3D printing venue the Buildkart retail.
It can also perform activities like headstands, push-ups and can also play football. The robot uses an open-source code so that it can be taught to learn and respond like a child or say a human child in a complete sense. It also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity and also a rechargeable lithium polymer battery, that works for an hour with a single full charge.
NAO, a robot born out of the same philosophy as ASIMO, which means bearing features like conservative walking, precise control and many degrees of freedom. But something that makes a difference between them is that NAO is much smaller and is designed to be open relatively inexpensive robotic platform. NAO is also a platform of the RoboCup robot soccer competition.
Counting on the description of NAO, it has a fairly broad suite of sensors, quite a bit of manoeuvrability and dexterous hands. Upon that, anyone can write the Apps and NAO runs it, this can be triggered by combinations of commands (voice) and visual data, due to which the robot’s software is growing, and getting smarter as time passes.
These bots have been assigned and used for a variety of tasks that include providing an educational platform for robotics, teaching social skills to autistic children. Interestingly, you can make them dance on “Thriller” and “Gangnam Style”.
9) KODOMOROID, OTONAROID
Japan created the world’s first robotic newscasters named Kodomoroid and otonaroid. They made their first-ever broadcast recently. These twp life-like, human-like robots delivered the news story of an FBI raid and an earthquake in Tokyo in front of a shell-shocked reporter.
Kodomaoroid is an Android with a resemblance to a human-child, whereas the Otonaroid resembles an adult female. Both the robots are hired to work like a robot science communicator for the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, they both will soon be there on a permanent base for the show “Android: What is Human?”
It is the first indigenously developed humanoid that has the ability to interact with the humans smartly. This humanoid robot named as Mitra was developed by a Bengaluru-based robotics startup called as Invento Robotics, this robot is found floating in the corridors of the Canara Bank and PVR Cinemas in the city chatting with the customers.
It was recently launched by the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi and the first daughter and advisor to the president of the United States Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump at the Global Entrepreneur Summit (GES).
This humanoid robot is five feet tall and is made of Fiberglass and is programmed to greet customers using the contextual help, facial and speech recognition, and autonomous navigation. This robot also has a touchscreen on its chest which can be used to interact when speech is not possible.
The bonus point of this robot is that it can work for eight hours in a single charge. It also understands various languages. In accordance with the robot’s official website, the robot is handy in the service sector. This robot can also be rented for any party if required. And, depending on the requirement, the startup customizes humanoids accordingly.
Mitra was showcased at an annual technology conference Slush 17 in Helsinki, Finland. During the event, the robot caught the attention of the audience and has also received opportunities for partnership with a European firm.
My Final Words and My Personal Opinion against it.
The above list comprises humanoid robots from different countries and each of them is pacing up themselves in a race of developing the most advanced humanoid robots.
Considering altogether, it is quite clear that roboticists are slowly but definitely overcoming the technological hurdles to construct an advanced humanoid robot. And eventually, that day is not far when robots will be developed that will pass the Turing test for a number of capabilities be it physical or psychological.
But the question of whether these human-made machines will have an emotional connection with the humans around still persists.
The things which seemed impossible 10 years ago is a reality now. Humanoid robots still have to be developed a lot in order to compete for the already existing- the makers of the robots- humans. I am not telling it won’t, it will definitely, but it will take some time (more time actually, uh am not sure, anything can happen in this technology growing fast world).
A lot of people ask me Why make robots look humanoid when non-humanoid robots can already do most tasks effectively and efficiently?
It is because if they look like us, we are more ready to accept them rather than some machine which we are used to it and it is BORING :p Oh just kidding.
Most of them ask me this If AI enhancements would be a threat or not?
It depends on what can be considered a threat. When a robot is created for a certain job that replaces human, E.g. construction, auditing, doing risky operations etc. It is possible that it will replace a large number of human workers and their daily bread, this is a threat to many workers and it is very real based on a study by McKinsey.
But ultimately, it is not the AI which creates a threat. It is the people who are using AI for a specific purpose that has the responsibility of making sure the system doesn’t have any unwanted negative effects. (Oh cmon, we know how the future is going to like, all digitally broken into bits and pieces, who are we kidding to? It is just we don’t want to talk and feel bad about it now, we just don’t want to accept that the future is going to be very DARK)
That’s it from my side guys, I hope this post was informative and you learnt something new today (Lots of hard work was put to make this post) So, do let me know how was the post in the comments below and if you have any doubt or did not understand any particular concept, comment down or text me personally on any of my social handles, I will get back to you ASAP. Keep reading and stay tuned. See you in the next post!