A team of researchers at the University of Tokyo has created what appears to be the most advanced humanoid robot yet--actually two of them, one called Kenshiro the other Kengoro. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, the team describes working to make robots that are as similar to humans as possible and demonstrates what their two latest models can do.
Following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, Honda reportedly received numerous requests to send its humanoid robot ASIMO to help with the recovery. ASIMO, however, wasn't designed to work outside a lab or office environment, let alone a highly radioactive rubble-strewn zone. Now it looks like Honda is working to address the problem by developing a bigger, beefed-up version of ASIMO that can walk, crawl, and perform tasks in a disaster environment. After the Fukushima accident, many observers were surprised that Japan, a country known for its advanced robots, wasn't better prepared and had to rely on U.S. robots instead. In the months that followed, Japanese government agencies and companies got to work to develop capable disaster-response robots.
Between bouts of eating this Thanksgiving weekend you might want to head outside and toss a football, shoot some hoops or kick a soccer ball around to get a little exercise. If the weather's nasty (or if you live in Buffalo) perhaps Ping Pong or a game of pool will do. Can't get any people in your house off the couch? Of course "a robot that plays soccer" could mean anything from a little cube 15 centimeters high that pushes a tiny ball on a tabletop field, to supersize automatons. For holiday fun I've collected videos of humanoids as well as nonhuman-like contraptions that play a real game on a real surface--with a little latitude for "real."
Sporting a trendy brown bob, a humanoid robot named Erica chats to a man in front of stunned audience members in Madrid. She and others like her are a prime focus of robotic research, as their uncanny human form could be key to integrating such machines into our lives, said researchers gathered this week at the annual International Conference on Intelligent Robots. Can you please tell me more?" Erica, who is playing the role of an employer, asks the man. She may not understand the conversation, but she's been trained to detect key words and respond to them. A source of controversy due in part to fears for human employment, the presence of robots in our daily lives is nevertheless inevitable, engineers at the conference said.