Humanoid Robots And Their Application Uses

An assistive machine of now, the savior of future

Whenever it comes to humanoid robotics, most people think of that dark Sci-fi Hollywood characters with deadly powers to take down mankind. However, in reality, things are pretty different! A lot of people might be thinking what really is a humanoid robot? How can it have so much impact on our future lives and how it is really helping us now?

humanoid robots

For most people, today, humanoid robots or intelligent mechanical systems are the servants that work in the background: cleaning up the carpets or turning on and off lights. Or furthermore, they are just complex machines that have taken over the tiresome human jobs from assembly-line workers or desk clerks.

As we are moving into the modern age of humankind, assistive technological advancements are getting good enough too…, Many high-tech robotic industries like Boston Dynamics, Honda, Softbank, and PAL Robotics have already developed pretty incredible human-like robots that are actually helping and assisting humans in several fields. Still, these robots may not be super intelligent and powerful enough – however, their improvements are pretty debauched.

That day isn’t far enough when smart machines or humanoid robots will be able to work alongside people as teammates—just like human-dog teams to handle critical tasks like bomb detection and stealth missions.

Humanoid Robots In a nutshell

Humanoid robots are not just a man alike machines that only resembles a human’s physical appearance or attributes; like one head, a chest, two arms, and two legs – but they also have the senses & capability to communicate and interact with humans or other robots through interpreted information to perform any specified task or activity according to the described input. These robots are characteristically pre-programmed for resolute specific actions.

Primary Components in Humanoid robotics:

  • Actuators
  • Sensors

Modern-day Humanoid application uses

Although humanoid robots are robots that resemble the body shape and characteristics of humans such as the ability to walk in an upright position, however, the real intention of humanoid robotics research was to build a better and proficient orthosis and prosthesis system for human beings. The true examples of it can be seen as neuromuscularly impaired mechanical leg prosthesis, biological ankle feet orthosis, and forearm prosthesis.

As the humanoid tech got matured over time, characteristics of the humanoid robots also got improved now. With the emergence of Ai in robotics, human alike robots now have the capability of autonomous learning, safe interaction with the surrounding environment of humans and other smart machines. Humanoid robots are now employed in various platforms:

  • Scientific research labs and educational institutes
  • Aiding emergency services and work in hazardous environments
  • Entertainment industries
  • Human ease and personal assistance
  • Space exploration and deep-sea exploration
  • Industrial sectors and assembling line
  • Automobile manufacturing line

With the implementation of advanced sensing technology such as proprioceptive & exteroceptive sensors, humanoid robots are now capable enough to measure the surrounding attributes on exploration tasks. Nasa’s Valkyrie is the perfect example of humanoid robotics that is being used for space exploration missions. Moreover, OceanOne “The Diving Humanoid” is also the first-ever Ai powered deep-sea exploration robot that was firstly introduced in 2016.

The Most Advanced Humanoid Robots of Today

The 21st century will probably be known in history as the age of innovation robotic technological advancement; from simple robotic kits to an intelligent robot-assisted mechanical system, the robotics industry is ever advancing and keep growing each day. But that continual and rapid growth robotic development making is extremely difficult to point out the best humanoid from the rest.

The best approach to pinpoint the most perfected humanoids is by explaining these:

  • Key-features and Abilities
  • Social Interaction and Human Assistance

1. Pepper Robot

Firstly, introduced in 2014, Pepper robot is the first-ever semi-humanoid that can recognize human emotion through its powerful yet unique artificial intelligence system. It is developed by Softbank specifically to communicate and interact with humans.

Pepper robot has a tablet on his chest to perform various operations like greeting, showcasing things while searching on the internet, and showing his stats. This robot is also the first humanoid that is being used commercially as a receptionist at several offices in the United Kingdom. It has the ability to identify visitors with the use of facial recognition, also, Pepper can send alerts for meeting organizers. Pepper can interact with people through their emotions by reading facial expressions and voice patterns. Moreover, it autonomously upgrades its emotion capturing algorithms through the cloud platform.

Abilities

Pepper robot is powered with a cloud-based operating system that helps him to upgrade the emotion capturing algorithms and it is equipped with various apps. It has one depth-sensing 3D camera to recognize multiple faces and their expressions at once. By default, Pepper can speak and understand four languages: Japanese, English, Spanish, and French. This semi-humanoid robot has multiple sensors to understanding human body language and actions.

Social interaction and Assistance Capability

Pepper Isn’t a fully humanoid and it can perform any assistance tasks like other humanoid robots. However, it is capable of recognizing human emotions and that makes Pepper a unique social humanoid. Pepper robot is capable of making conversations, it can search and display any specified information regarding the given command, it can greet customers, and also it can give directions of pathways.

Technical specs of Pepper

  • Pepper is powered by a 30.0Ah Li-ion battery that can last long about 12 hours
  • It can move with 20 degrees of motion
  • Pepper is capable of using internet connection through Wi-Fi and Ethernet port
  • It has one 10.1-inch touch screen embedded on his chest
  • It has 4 microphones, 2 HD cameras inside his head and mouth
  • Pepper has 2 sonars, 6 lasers, 3 bumper sensors, and 2 gyroscopic sensors
  • It has one 1 3D depth senor and 3 touch sensors
  • Some Interesting Facts about Pepper
  • About 15k Pepper robots are being deployed in Japanese and European banks, fast service restaurants and healthcare centers.
  • To interact with patients, Belgian hospitals arrayed Pepper robots in June 2016.
  • In December 2015, Nescafe deployed around 1k Peppers in their appliance stores for helping customers.
  • Every month in Japan, around 1k Pepper robots are being sold.

2. NAO6

NAO6 is the 6th generation humanoid robot and the successor of NAO. It was originally developed by Aldebaran Robotics, a French robotics tech giant that was acquired by Softbank robotics in 2015. NAO6 is the reprogrammable autonomous humanoid and is one of the most iconic robots in the world right now. Although this humanoid robot can be used for various applications in the field of education, entertainment, healthcare, and commercial, however, it was primarily designed for child care.

nao robot playing soccer

NAO6 is a 58cm tall humanoid robot, that can speak, see, walk, hear and perform almost any task like greeting, carrying a thing, turning On or OFF lights or even making a call. The humanoid detects the origin of sounds in the Realtime to understand the user’s argument and to showoff & express emotions, NAO6 uses color codes through his eyelids.

Abilities

NAO6 is a fully programmable autonomous humanoid that has an impressive list of abilities that also can be upgraded through native code. It has the most advanced environment detection ability from the rest of humanoids. It can recognize voices, faces, and things from a certain distance and it also can memorize any person for future interactions. Just like Pepper robot, NAO6 also uses internet connection through Wi-Fi and ethernet port to search things from the search engines. NAO6 benefits from many robustness improvements on motors and fingers providing an extended lifetime.

nao robot humanoid robot interaction

Social interaction and Assistance Capability

NAO6 is fully capable of social interactions and human ease & assistance abilities. It is useable in any customer-facing environments, healthcare, and education. Since 2011, moreover, 200 academic institutes all across the globe have used NAO6 for teaching and scientific usage. NAO6 can also carry insignificant packages, can help with everyday tasks, assist fallen over, and can make conversations and play games.

Technical specs of NAO6

  • Powered with a 21.6v li-ion battery that offers 90 minutes active use
  • Comes with a built-in OS NAOqi 2.8 with cross-platform compatibility
  • Equipped with two HD OV5640 67.4 DFOV cameras for facial reorganization
  • It has four microphones, one sonar rangefinder, two infrared emitters, and receivers. For better communication and interaction with the surrounding
  • It has an inertial board, nine tactile sensors, eight pressure sensors

Some interesting facts about NAO6

In 2012, around 50 Nao robots were donated to several schools in the UK to teach autistic children.

Over 5000 Nao5 were used in more than 70 countries for research & educational use till late 2014.

In 2015, a French institute of health & medical research bought several Nao robots and trained them to help the international space station crews and elderly patients.

3. Reem-C

Firstly introduced in 2013 by PAL Robotics, Reem-C is the humanoid designed robot that is currently being in use for various research purposes to improve human-robot interactions. On top of that, its strong autonomous navigation system and Ai capabilities make this robot a highly social yet intelligent smart machine. Reem-C humanoid can find a specific destination in a variety of different environments and it can recognize any individual person in public places.

Thanks to its energy efficiency and longer battery life, Reem-C can be used, for example, as a receptionist at an event or trade fair, to entertain and praise visitors, to deliver dynamic information or even to give presentations and speeches in many different languages.

Abilities

Reem-C is capable of lighting weight up to 10-kg with just a single arm and even beyond while stretched up. Its fully electrical humanoid robot with ROS capabilities. Reem-C can navigate autonomously and is capable to reach the specified location in different environments or surroundings.

With its dynamic movement system, the humanoid can walk and climb stairs just like any human being. Reem-C is a fully programmable smart mechanical system that can perform any high-level re-instructed tasks to unleash its whole-body control algorithms. Reem-C has visual & speech recognization capabilities that help him communicate and interact with humans.

Thanks to its modular design, Reem-C can be upgradeable, customizable, and transportable. In addition to assistance, this humanoid robot is equipped with modern networking capabilities such as Wi-Fi and ethernet to transport small packages as a dynamic information point with a wide range of multimedia applications.

Social interaction and assistance capability

Reem-C is the first humanoid of its kind that can use an autonomous navigation system to reach a specific location in a real-time environment. It can be used in a wide range of public places like hotels, museums, shopping centers, care centers, and airports. Although it is currently being in use for promotional purposes only, still, there are a lot of activities and applications Reem-C can perform.

Thanks to its multimedia application features, Reem-C can demonstrate any asked information on its user-friendly touch screen. As human-assistant, this humanoid robot can interact with people; greet them, communicate with them, and recognize their expressions and act upon it by using its powerful artificial intelligence structure.

Technical specs of Reem-C

  • Powered by 48v Li-ion battery with 8 hours of active usage
  • Equipped with two HQ speakers and four microphones
  • Have four sonars equipped inside its head and torso
  • Equipped with two lasers inside his feet that range up to 4 meters
  • Uses IMU 5G acceleration to perform up to 450 deg/s max turn
  • Powered by intel core i7 processor and ROS, OROCOS Compatible
  • Some interesting facts about Reem-C
  • In 2014’s international humanoid tech congress, Reem-C surprised the guests by greeting them like an actual human being.
  • In October 2014, several shopping malls in Abu Dhabi bought the bipedal variant of Reem-C humanoid for customer ease and assistance.
  • In 2015, PAL robotics sold Reem-C humanoid robots in several European countries and labs for research and development purposes under the price of $300,000.
  • In 2019, Reem-C attended the European Robotics Forum and surprised everyone with his multilanguage speaking capabilities.

5. Atlas

Atlas is the bipedal designed humanoid robot that was firstly introduced on July 13, 2013, by Boston Dynamics. This 6-feet tall monstrous robot is specifically developed for search & rescue applications and can work under any environmental conditions. Unlike the humanoid robots that resemble human alike appearance and interaction, Atlas offers a completely unique form factor with impressive athletic feats. Its actuators are driven by a compact yet powerful hydraulic system that the company engineered from scratch.

Equipped with the most advanced dynamic control system and whole-body mobility structure, Atlas can perform human-level acrobatic leaps and flips that can’t be seen any other humanoid robot till now. Moreover, Atlas is completely assembled with 3D printed parts to maximize its strength-to-weight ratio for leaps and somersaults.

Abilities

Atlas is designed to operate in any environmental condition and it is capable of walking over a wide range of terrain without any delinquent. It is electrically powered that helps him to operate or complete any specific task silently. Moreover, Atlas is equipped with the most advanced control system to perform human-level movements. It has sensors in its body and legs that keep its balance stable seamlessly.

To avoid any obstacles while moving, Atlas uses its built-in LIDAR & stereo sensors equipped inside his head for mapping the surrounding and recognization of the objects. The humanoid is completely tether-free to perform any pre-programmed task independently.

Social interaction and assistance capability

Atlas isn’t a social humanoid robot with the ability to interact with humans like ASIMO, Pepper, or any other humanoid mentioned here. It is made for human assistance to aid in emergency services like search & rescue operations. It can perform tasks like opening doors, shutting off the valves, driving vehicles, moving in extreme environmental conditions, locating objects, and so on. The idea behind the development of Atlas was to helping humans while operating in environments where the level of caution is absolute.

Technical specs of Atlas

  • Powered by a 90v Li-ion battery for continuous 90 minutes operation
  • Have two vision systems: Laser range finder, Stereoscopic cameras
  • It has 28 DOFs possessed in its limbs
  • It has three onboard real-time control computers
  • Equipped with hydraulic pump and thermal management system

Some interesting facts about Atlas

Atlas humanoid’s hands are developed by two different robotic companies, one of its hand were manufactured by Sandia National Laboratories while the other one was developed by iRobot.

Atlas is derived from Boston Dynamics earlier robot PETMAN which was constructed for testing chemical protection suits.

In the 2015’s DARPA competition of robotics, Atlas was able to perform all required tasks in a couple of minutes.

Conclusion

The field of humanoid robotics is getting better and impressive rapidly. Each humanoid robot listed here surely represents an innovative breakthrough in humanoid technological science and signifies fascinating things. However, there still a lot of room for improvements and it is hard to distinguish which humanoid is performing better than the other. Perhaps nobody can deny that a small step for robots could lead to one giant leap for robotics tech overall in the next few years.

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Robots