Ours is an age of science, and all around us are the “Fairytales of science and the long results of time”. Today, our existence depends on the innumerable discoveries and wonders of modern science, art, and literature.
Their applications aren’t just in the robotic realm, but also in aspects of our daily lives, like E-payments, Digital Assistants, Facial Recognition Software, not just on our smartphones but also Self Driving Cars like those made by Tesla, and so much more.
However, nothing is more awe-inspiring than having the power to craft a humanoid robot in our own image, which, when done right, will blur the lines between humanity and androids.
Today, we have many lifelike robots around the world that can perform amazing feats ranging from imitating a human’s range of motion to conveying realistic facial expressions and recognizing speech, and responding appropriately.
This article includes detailed accounts on the most advanced contemporary Robots – Lifelike Robots like Sofia, Ameca, Vyommitra, NAO, and Tesla Bot that play crucial roles in healthcare, education, and the space race that will show you far Robotics has come.
This specific humanoid has had its debut at the all so renowned Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, 60 Minutes with Charlie Rose, and had several high profile interviews with CNBC, Business Insider, and the like.
Some critics have labeled her behavior as a bit on the awkward side of things, but I’d say it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
She even cracked jokes about reading too much Elon Musk and watching too much Hollywood fiction.
Speaking of Musk, he tweeted that she should watch The Godfather and asked her, “what’s the worst that could happen?”
She is capable of speech and can strike up a conversation. She is also good at interpreting visual information and performing facial recognition and can emulate more than 60 facial expressions.
Sofia was also the first robot ever to be granted a nationality – She is a Saudi Arabian Citizen, which caused its own fair share of controversy.
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In 2022, Ameca, the humanoid robot, blinked to life and quickly turned into an internet sensation. This robot was revealed at CES 2022 and was an instant sensation as it seemed to blur the line between humanity and androids.
Ameca’s facial expressions were unparalleled compared to those that came before. It was truly engineering at its finest, but I was most intrigued about how the robot would respond to stimuli and speech.
You have probably seen the gray-faced robots’ facial expressions and memes which spread throughout the Internet in late 2021 like wildfire.
Elon Musk’s response to the robot was an all so amusing “Yikes”.
However, the Body of the Robot is part metallic and part plastic, with its grey face deliberately designed to look genderless.
Its emotions and movement are controlled by 17 individual motors in its head.
As we’ve all seen in the movies, be it Synthetics from Aliens or iRobot – it’s all now real!
This, however, isn’t the only daunting robot the company Engineered Arts has released. They have been at the forefront of innovation these past four years with their line of Mesmer Robots, which are made easily swappable with variants under the same name.
Ameca isn’t designed to be able to run, jump and be all athletic like robots designed by Boston Dynamics but works towards achieving the goal of effortless communication and taming human behavior.
Vyommitra, which roughly translates to “space friend” in Sanskrit, is feminine by its characteristics and a humanoid sparked into existence by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) concerning their Gaganyaan project, a crewed orbital spacecraft.
Vyommitra can perform microgravity experiments, monitor crew module parameters, alert Astronauts, and perform crew activities like switch panel operations and ECLSS functions. (Environment Control and Life support System). Maintaining life support systems and environment control with utmost accuracy is her expertise.
The humanoid is also capable of conversing in both English and Hindi and being a support companion to astronauts.
There are also plans to introduce a spacecraft with just the humanoid as its sole crew. This is to better understand the effects of radiation on the human body due to prolonged space travel and to conduct weightlessness experiments.
According to the ISRO Chief K Shivan, the agency is planning their space exploration mission with Vyommitra and four other shortlisted astronauts as part of their crew to begin their seven-day voyage to space by late 2022.
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Robear is unique to this list of robots, considering how different the aesthetics of the robot is and its intended purpose.
Robear is a prototype nursing-care robot developed in Japan by the RIKEN SRK Collaboration Center for Human Interactive Robot Research and Sumitomo Riko Company.
The cuddly high-tech teddy has one mission – to care for the elderly. It can even lift patients with absolute precision thanks to its robust actuators that allow softer and more precise movement.
The said innovation resulted from the current aging problem in the country and the fact that care workers have the strenuous task of lifting elderly patients from a bed to a wheelchair with an average of at least 40 times a day.
However, performing this task correctly is a little tricky as the robot has to be deft at handling their patients, lifting them gently like a person and not as a forklift truck does.
However, the robot is still a prototype and is heavily priced due to its expensive actuators at around 20-30 Million ¥ (between $160,000 and $250,000).
It’s stated that the prices will drop to a reasonable range in the next 20-30 years as future technology will improve both its efficiency and make it more affordable.
Nao was created by Aldebaran Robotics (now SoftBank Robotics) and is completely autonomous and a programmable humanoid robot released between 2005 and 2007, during which they made six prototypes.
NAO initially made headlines in the Summer of 2010 with their synchronized dance program at the Shanghai Expo in China. Since then, it has been brought up on multiple occasions, including a stand-up comedy routine and even on TED talks more than once.
The specs may vary across versions, but the documentation claims it has two cameras capable of facial recognition, two loudspeakers, four microphones.
The robot is also NLP capable, enabling speech recognition and text-to-speech conversion.
Its hands are prehensile, and the robot has a self-collision avoidance system and is also capable of locomotion with enabled smart motor stiffness to conserve and adapt to its power requirements.
The robot has 25 degrees of freedom, and the latest model, NAO V6, is available for purchase at approx $9000 and is one of the best-priced robots on the market.
Tesla is a car company stepping into the robot industry, or at least, that is how it seems. CEO Elon Musk has stated that they already are a Robotics company considering how their automobiles utilize Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision.
This is quite debatable and has sparked a lot of controversy among the general public and robot enthusiasts.
Tesla bot, which was revealed at the end of Tesla’s AI day presentation in late 2021, is a bit of a creepy humanoid resembling Slenderman of all things.
It’s expected to be a 5’8 robot weighing in at around 125 pounds operating via Tesla’s Full Self Driving computer AI, which supports Tesla’s claims on being a robotics tech lead in the market and is revealed to be out with a prototype in 2023.
The carmaker joked that “It’s intended to be friendly.”
Tesla aims to create a future enabling humans to converse and interact with technology like never before. The CEO’s plans are certainly a step in the right direction towards a better future, and this specific innovation is also expected to pack a punch when it is released next year.
Honda stepped into robotics in the early 1980s and had made several prototypes before ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility).
ASIMO production has, however, halted due to the organization’s decision to focus on more practical applications befitting the organization’s motives.
ASIMOs Innovative Mobility will be utilized in the design and manufacture of future automobiles and mobility gear with better mobility, which instead aligns with the company’s interest.
However, the original ASIMO robot stood at 4’3 tall. It was around 119 lbs, powered by a rechargeable 51.8 Volt Lithium-ion Polymer battery capable of operating the robot for an hour at full operability.
The robot had a total of 57 Degrees of Freedom, as stated in its spec sheets and documentation.
It has the ability to recognize moving objects via computer vision, postures and simple gestures.
It can map its surrounding environment sounds and is capable of facial expressions making it capable of identifying and interacting with humans.
The robot can also identify handshakes and has a sense of direction and distance.
ASIMO was the culmination of two decades of Humanoid robotic research by Honda Engineers and its ability to run, walk on uneven slopes surfaces, climb staircases and its capacity to respond to human speech commands despite being an initial conception in the field of robotics birthed during the first half of the 21st century is truly astounding for its time.
Spot, the brainchild of Boston Dynamics – the absolute best in robotics – was designed to be an agile and mobile robot that automates sensing and inspection to make operations safer, more efficient, and predictable. It had more to it than meets the eye.
It’s a compact, nimble four-legged robot capable of trotting around your home, office and outdoors with the capability of carrying roughly 40 lbs. It was launched in September 2019 for a base price of $74,500.
Notably, it was put to good use recently when the robot was introduced in Singapore to encourage social distancing in public places.
The robot was also used at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, to screen patients and take vitals. It is also to be stated that the robot is planned to be used in decommissioning what’s left of the Chernobyl Incident – reactor number 4.
Spot can also be used with an arm module, making the robot capable of opening drawers and doors, holding onto objects, flipping a switch and navigating complex environments.
Its maximum speed is 1.6 meters per second with a 90-minute runtime off of swappable batteries.
Boston Dynamics has developed two models of Spot.
- Spot Enterprise
- Spot Explorer
The enterprise model is meant to be used to inspect hazardous environments humans can’t traverse and is capable of self-charging without human interaction.
It performs on-demand routine data collection and has a built-in dock detection and a tablet interface that allows it to return to its dock and recharge as the program requires that it does so, making it completely autonomous. The tablet interface has its use in remote monitoring and command execution required by the operator.
Besides its capabilities, Spot-Enterprise leverages hardware to make it more capable when it comes to safety, communication and remote access with automation.
There sure are a lot of automobile manufacturers, including Honda and Tesla stepping into the robotic industry and with Toyota being the new addition to these ambitious automobilists, the future of robotics sure looks brighter than ever.
Toyota City, Japan, in November 2017 revealed their third generation of humanoid robots, the T-HR3 with the company’s latest robotics platform designed by their robotics division with a new maneuvering system that is unseen to this day with cases in exception to science fiction like Avatar and Matrix 3.
The “third-generation” refers to the different versions of Toyota’s musical humanoid robots, the first of which played the trumpet, and the second, a violin.
The T-HR3 (Third generation) is unique in its approach and is a broad exploration of how far technology has come to meet people’s unique mobility needs.
This specific setting finds its applications in medical facilities, construction sites, disaster-stricken areas, and even outer space. The master maneuvering system enables remote exploration in areas otherwise inhospitable to humans.
The T-HR3’s master maneuvering system allows the entire body of the robot along with the joints to be operated instinctively with mapped control enabled clothing which will map the hand, foot, and arm movements backed up by a Virtual Reality Module which will enable the user to see from the robot’s perspective.
The operator has complete control over the robot’s joints, and the master foot allows the operator to remain in the same position in their chair while the robot receives all the lateral motion instructions.
The Self-Interference Prevention Technology at the heart of T-HR3 ensures disruption-free control over the robot. It is also capable of maintaining its balance even if it bumps into anything.
The Master Maneuvering System is undoubtedly a clever way of providing the T-HR3 with a great deal of pseudo-autonomy since it doesn’t require an offloading of all the sensing, processing, motion mapping, and manipulatory tasks.
It probably isn’t the best way to manage a fleet of robots, but it’s suspected they will use MMS as a tool to enable reliable learning where the robot will gain experience from the system and learn from it.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto!
Whether it be with aesthetics completely lopsided to the human physique like Tesla’s smart cars or the perfect impersonification of ourselves as of late, Robots sure have come a long way. They have got a ways to go when it comes to reliability, efficiency, ease of use, and availability.
With advancements in Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning Algorithms, the future of robotics looks brighter than ever with its accelerated progress in both physical and simulation models and embodied cognition.
Nouvelle AI’s conceptual change has developed, paving the way for behavior-based artificial intelligence (BBAI). In simple terms – an AI capable of simulating real-time emotions by deconstructing and reverse engineering the same.
You May Also Enjoy Reading:
- How Are Robots Made? The Answer Is It Depends
- History of Robotic Legs and Arms: How Far We Have Come
- Can Robots Survive in Space?
- 7 Creepy Robots That You Wish Didn’t Exist
Frequently Asked Questions
What are humanoid robots made of?
Most robots are made of 3 main parts.
- The Controller – “The Brain”
- The Mechanical part – Motors, Pistons, Grippers, Wheels and Gears
- Sensors – Their Senses
Humanoid Robots, however, mimic the human body and the actuators are the motors responsible for the same.
They perform the work of muscles and joints in the human body. The actuators can be electric, pneumatic, or hydraulic in nature. However, the external body of the robot is made of Carbon Fiber, Plastic, and even Stainless Steel.
What jobs will be replaced by robots?
Below are some jobs that will be lost to the automation factor of robots:
- Courier service – Delivery
- Customer Service Executives
- Market Research Analysts
- Security Guards
- Drivers – due to the onset of automobile automation
- HR Managers
- Toll Booth Operators
- The Assembly role at a plant (already in-effect )
What can humans do that robots cannot?
Robots can’t take care of children the way humans can – toddlers do require human interaction to learn and grow.
Writing and art are human elements that can’t be replaced or reanimated through any piece of software. “Real Experiences” will be a major term dominating the future market. The “rare, real, and the visceral” will have become a luxury of the past.
Robots can’t comprehend human emotion at most and thus can’t be a reliable social companion in terms of care and psychological evaluation.
Can robots learn language?
Thanks to neural networks, computers have become apt at translating one language to another. They do so by combining semantic and syntactic techniques traditional in computer programming and use a sort of interpreter at times to relay the same.
Thus they are indeed capable of gaining a deeper understanding of spoken words through Natural Language Processing.