A humanoid robot is a robot with its overall appearance, based on that of the human body, allowing interaction with made-for-human tools or environments. In general humanoid robots have a torso with a head, two arms and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots may model only part of the body, for example, from the waist up. Some humanoid robots may also have a 'face', with 'eyes' and 'mouth'. Androids are humanoid robots built to aesthetically resemble a human.
A humanoid robot is an autonomous robot, because it can adapt to changes in its environment or itself and continue to reach its goal. This is the main difference between humanoid and other kinds of robots. In this context, some of the capacities of a humanoid robot may include, among others
1)self-maintenance (like recharging itself)
2)autonomous learning (learn or gain new capabilities without outside assistance, adjust strategies based on the surroundings and adapt to new situations)
3)avoiding harmful situations to people, property, and itself
4)safe interacting with human beings and the environment
Like other mechanical robots, humanoid refer to the following basic components too: Sensing, Actuating and Planning and Control. Since they try to simulate the human structure and behavior and they are autonomous systems, generally humanoid robots are more complex than other kinds of robots.
Humanoids may prove to be the ideal robot design to interact with people. After all, humans tend to naturally interact with other human-like entities; the interface is hardwired in our brains. Their bodies will allow them to seamlessly blend into environments already designed for humans. Historically, we humans have adapted to the highly constrained modality of monitor and keyboard. In the future, technology will adapt to us. Undoubtedly, humanoids will change the way we interact with machines and will impact how we interact with and understand each other.
Humanoid Robotics also offers a unique research tool for understanding the human brain and body. Already, humanoids have provided revolutionary new ways for studying cognitive science. Using humanoids, researchers can embody their theories and take them to task at a variety of levels. As our understanding deepens, we will be prompted to freshly reexamine fundamental notions such as dualism, will and consciousness that have spurred centuries of controversy within Western thought
This complexity affects all robotic scales (mechanical, spatial, time, power density, system and computational complexity), but it is more noticeable on power density and system complexity scales. In the first place, most current humanoids aren’t strong enough even to jump and this happens because the power/weight ratio is not as good as in the human body. The dynamically balancing Dexter can jump, but poorly so far. On the other hand, there are very good algorithms for the several areas of humanoid construction, but it is very difficult to merge all of them into one efficient system (the system complexity is very high). Nowadays, these are the main difficulties that humanoid robots development has to deal with.
Humanoid robots are created to imitate some of the same physical and mental tasks that humans undergo daily. Scientists and specialists from many different fields including engineering, cognitive science, and linguistics combine their efforts to create a robot as human-like as possible.
There are currently two ways to model a humanoid robot. The first one models the robot like a set of rigid links, which are connected with joints. This kind of structure is similar to the one that can be found in industrial robots. Although this approach is used for most of the humanoid robots, a new one is emerging in some research works that use the knowledge acquired on biomechanics. In this one, the humanoid robot's bottom line is a resemblance of the human skeleton.
Humanity has long been fascinated by the possibility of automata (from the Greek "automatos," acting of itself). In the second century B.C., Hero of Alexander constructed statues, doors and small mechanical animals that could be animated by water, air and steam pressure. By the eighteenth century, elaborate mechanical dolls were able to write short phrases, play musical instruments, and perform other simple, life-like acts.Today, robots are no longer mere curiosities, but have become an indispensable pillar of global industry. We have millions of factory automation robots carrying out complex tasks around the clock. From clockwork, gear-filled devices, we have arrived at lethal instruments of war such as the unmanned military vehicles vividly demonstrated to the world during the 1991 liberation of Kuwait.
From the very beginning, our fascination extended beyond machine automation to the possibility of creating an entity with our own form and function. In Homer's Argosy, the bronze sentinel, Talos, was created and animated by Daedulus to guard the island of Thera. Written some time around the 3rd century A.D., the pre-Cabbalistic book of Jewish mysticism named the Sefer Yezirah (The Book of Creation) describes how numbers and letters can be arranged to correlate with the four elements of creation (Spirit of God, ether, water and fire) and provide a template for life itself. According to Jewish legend, certain great rabbis used their programming prowess to instill life in an effigy or golem, creating a human-like automaton that could carry out its master's command.
With the rise of the computer, people immediately began to envision the potential for encoding human intelligence into textual programs, but soon discovered that static programs and rule-based logic cannot capture the true essence of human intelligence. Early attempts to create artificial intelligence produced information-processing machines that operated on high-level human concepts, but had difficulty relating those concepts to actions and perceptions in the external world. Estranged from perception and action, such intelligence derived meaning only as an extension of the human creator or user.
Once embodied in real robots, such programs were confounded by noisy and all-too-often inconsistent data streaming in and out from a host of real-world sensors and actuators. Intricate path-planning routines allowed robots to optimally traverse their internal environments, but were rendered meaningless as soon as the robot, inevitably, became disoriented. This correspondence problem hindered robots’ ability to generalize knowledge and adapt behavior, resulting in hard-coded functionality applicable only to highly structured, specialized tasks such as factory automation. Most roboticists forsook the goal of human-like cognition entirely and focused on creating functional, high-utility agents.
Nonetheless, as roboticists continued, mostly from a mechanical point of view, to develop new robotic tools for a variety of purposes, they gained a new respect for the human body a platform that remains unmatched for versatility and adaptability. Accepting what they believed to be one of the greatest engineering challenges of all time, a few intrepid mechanical and electrical engineers began to build the world’s first humanoid robots. In 1973, the construction of a human-like robot was started at the Waseda University in Tokyo under the direction of the late Ichiro Kato. He and his group developed WABOT-1, the first full-scale anthropomorphic robot in the world. It consisted of a limb-control system, a vision system and a conversation system. WABOT-1 was able to communicate with a person in Japanese and to measure distances and directions to the objects using external receptors, artificial ears and eyes, and an artificial mouth. The WABOT-1 walked with its lower limbs and was able to grip and transport objects with touch-sensitive hands. At the time, it was estimated that the WABOT-1 had the mental faculty of a one-and-half-year-old child. In 1985, Kato and his research group at Waseda University built WASUBOT, a humanoid musician (WAseda SUmitomo roBOT), developed with Sumitomo Electric Industry Ltd. WASUBOT could read a musical score and play a repertoire of 16 tunes on a keyboard instrument. Since these early successes, the Japanese electronics and automotive industries have played a key role in the emergence of humanoids by creating robots of humanoids by developing robots capable of walking over uneven terrain, kicking a soccer ball, climbing stairs and performing dexterous tasks such as using a screwdriver and juggling. At the present time, we have full-scale humanoid robots that roughly emulate the physical dynamics and mechanical dexterity of the human body.
Humanoid robots are used as a research tool in several scientific areas.
Human cognition is a field of study which is focused on how humans learn from sensory information in order to acquire perceptual and motor skills. This knowledge is used to develop computational models of human behavior and it has been improving over time.
It has been suggested that very advanced robotics will facilitate the enhancement of ordinary humans. See transhumanism.
Although the initial aim of humanoid research was to build better orthosis and prosthesis for human beings, knowledge has been transferred between both disciplines. A few examples are: powered leg prosthesis for neuromuscularly impaired, ankle-foot orthosis, biological realistic leg prosthesis and forearm prosthesis.
Besides the research, humanoid robots are being developed to perform human tasks like personal assistance, where they should be able to assist the sick and elderly, and dirty or dangerous jobs. Regular jobs like being a receptionist or a worker of an automotive manufacturing line are also suitable for humanoids. In essence, since they can use tools and operate equipment and vehicles designed for the human form, humanoids could theoretically perform any task a human being can, so long as they have the proper software. However, the complexity of doing so is deceptively great.
Humanoid robots, especially with artificial intelligence algorithms, could be useful for future dangerous and/or distant space exploration missions, without having the need to turn back around again and return to Earth once the mission is completed.
What Is A Humanoid Robot:
Humanoid Robotics includes a rich diversity of projects where perception, processing and action are embodied in a recognizably anthropomorphic form in order to emulate some subset of the physical, cognitive and social dimensions of the human body and experience. Humanoid Robotics is not an attempt to recreate humans. The goal is not, nor should it ever be, to make machines that can be mistaken for or used interchangeably with real human beings. Rather, the goal is to create a new kind of tool, fundamentally different from any we have yet seen because it is designed to work with humans as well as for them. Humanoids will interact socially with people in typical, everyday environments. We already have robots to do tedious, repetitive labor for specialized environments and tasks. Instead, humanoids will be designed to act safely alongside humans, extending our capabilities in a wide variety of tasks and environments.
Defining a humanoid robot is a lot like defining what it means to be human. Most likely, you'll know one when you see it, and yet have trouble putting the characteristics on paper. The physical constitution of the body is clearly crucial. Not surprisingly, some have chosen to define a humanoid robot as any robot with two arms, two legs and a human-like head. Unfortunately, such a definition says nothing about the ability of this robot to receive information, process it and respond. Moreover, many Humanoid Robotics projects spend the majority of their efforts on a portion of the body such as the head, the legs or the arms.
This area includes computer vision as well as a great variety of other sensing modalities including taste, smell, sonar, IR, haptic feedback, tactile sensors, and range of motion sensors. It also includes implementation of unconscious physiological mechanisms such as the vestibulo-ocular reflex, which allows humans to track visual areas of interest while moving. Lastly, this area includes the attentional, sensor fusion and perceptual categorization mechanisms which roboticists implement to filter stimulation and coordinate sensing.
This area includes the study of human factors related to the tasking and control of humanoid robots. How will we communicate efficiently, accurately, and conveniently with humanoids? Another concern is that many humanoids are, at least for now, large and heavy. How can we insure the safety of humans who interact with them? Much work in this area is focused on coding or training mechanisms that allow robots to pick up visual cues such as gestures and facial expressions that guide interaction. Lastly, this area considers the ways in which humanoids can be profitably and safely integrated into everyday life.
Learning and adaptive behavior:
For robots to be useful in everyday environments, they must be able to adapt existing capabilities to cope with environmental changes. Eventually, humanoids will learn new tasks on the fly by sequencing existing behaviors. A spectrum of machine learning techniques will be used including supervised methods where a human trainer interacts with the humanoid, and unsupervised learning where a built-in critic is used to direct autonomous learning. Learning will not only allow robust, domain-general behavior, but will also facilitate tasking by hiding the complexity of task decomposition from the user. Humanoids should be told what to do rather than how to do it.
For humanoids to exploit the way in which we have structured our environment, they will need to have legs. They must be able to walk up stairs and steep inclines and over rough, uneven terrain. The problem is that walking is not simply a forwards-backwards mechanical movement of the legs, but a full-body balancing act that must occur faster than real-time. The best approaches look closely at the dynamics of the human body for insight.
Arm control and dexterous manipulation:
Around the world, researchers are working on dexterous tasks including catching balls, juggling, chopping vegetables, performing telesurgery, and pouring coffee. From a mechanical point of view, robot arms have come a long way, even in the last year or so. Once large and heavy with noisy, awkward hydraulics, some humanoids now have sleek, compliant limbs with high strength to weight ratios. While mechanical innovation will and should continue, the real hard problem is how to move from brittle, hard-coded dexterity toward adaptive control where graceful degradation can be realized. The humanoid body functions as a whole and consequently, small errors in even one joint can drastically degrade the performance of the whole body.
Past Problems with “Thinking robots”:
A humanoid project at Michigan State University attempts to integrate research from many disparate fields into its robot, SAIL, including cognitive science, biology, developmental psychology, robotics, and computer vision.
In their zeal to make robots "think like humans," early humanoid researchers focused on high-level cognition and provided no mechanism for building control from the bottom up. Although intended to model humans, most of the systems did not, like humans, acquire their knowledge through interaction with the real world. When situated in the real world, these robots possessed little mastery over it. Even in the fortunate event that sensors could accurately connect internal 'archetypes' to real-world objects, robots could only extend the knowledge thrust upon them in rudimentary, systematic ways. Such robots carried out preconceived actions with no ability to react to unforeseen features of the environment or task.
Realizing the limitations of hard-coded, externally derived solutions, many within the AI community decided to look to fields such as neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and biology for new insight. Before long, the multidisciplinary field of cognitive science drove home the notion that the planning and high-level cognition humans are consciously aware of represents only the tip of a vast neurological iceberg.The mainstay of human action, it was argued, derives from motor skills and implicit behavior encodings that lie beneath the level of conscious awareness. Borrowing on this understanding, Agre and Chapman argued that robots should likewise spend less time deliberating and more time responding to a world in constant flux.A new, behavior-based view of intelligence emerged which transferred the emphasis from intelligent processing to robust real-world action.
Neurobiology provided compelling evidence for a behavior-based approach with studies on the behavioral architecture of low-level animals. In one experiment, scientists severed the connection between a frog's spine and brain, effectively removing the possibility of centralized, high-level control. They then stimulated particular points along the spinal cord and found that much of the frog's behavior was encoded directly into the spine.
Learning by Doing:
Automated Development through Real-World Interaction
The mechanical sophistication of a full-fledged humanoid body poses a devastating challenge to even the most robust learning technique. The more complex a humanoid body, the harder it is to place constraints necessary for productive learning. If too few constraints are employed, learning becomes intractable. Too many constraints on the other hand, and we may curtail the ability of learning to scale. Ultimately, the conventional learning techniques described above are limited by the fact that they are tools wielded by human designers, rather than self-directed capabilities of the robot. This may not need to be the case. Although robots will always require an initial program, this fact does not preclude them from building indefinitely, willfully and creatively upon it. After all, humans also begin with a program encoded in our DNA. The key is that in humans the majority of this genetic code is devoted not to mere behavior, but to laying a foundation necessary for future development.
Before we can transform a cognitive architecture into a developing mind, there are a host of difficult questions to be answered. How do we give humanoids the ability to impress their own meaning onto the world? How can humanoids direct their own development? How do we motivate this development? How much a priori skill and knowledge do we build in? Using what level of representation? What, if any, bounds should be imposed?
While there may never be definitive answers to these questions, a learning approach is emerging that provides a unique, functional balance of human input, self-development and real-world interaction. This technique, which we will call imitative learning, allows the robot to learn continuously through multi-modal interactions with a human trainer and the environment. The robot can pose questions, ask for actions to be repeatedly demonstrated, and use emotional states to communicate frustration, exhaustion or boredom to the human trainer.
Current Research Projects:
Humanoid Research has already begun to accelerate. While only a few institutions are fully dedicated to the creation of humanoid robots, a host of projects around the world are meeting with encouraging success in particular areas. This section highlights endeavors in legged locomotion, arm control and dexterous manipulation, robot-human interaction, service robots, learning and adaptive behavior, perception, and anthropopathic (emotive) robots. These categories certainly should and do overlap. Robust arm control is, of course, impossible without perception. Legged locomotion for rough terrain usually requires a panoply of machine-learning techniques. One of the most encouraging things for the world of Humanoid Robotics is the increased collaboration and community between these various projects and research areas. The brief descriptions given attempt to give some insight into how these projects are encouraging the development of the field.
c. 250 BC The Lie Zi described an automaton.
c. 50 AD Greek mathematician Hero of Alexandria described a machine to automatically pour wine for party guests.
1206 Al-Jazari described a band made up of humanoid automata which, according to Charles B. Fowler, performed "more than fifty facial and body actions during each musical selection." Al-Jazari also created hand washing automata with automatic humanoid servants,and an elephant clock incorporating an automatic humanoid mahout striking a cymbal on the half-hour. His programmable "castle clock" also featured five musician automata which automatically played music when moved by levers operated by a hidden camshaft attached to a water wheel.
1495 Leonardo da Vinci designs a humanoid automaton that looks like an armored knight, known as Leonardo's robot.
1738 Jacques de Vaucanson builds The Flute Player, a life-size figure of a shepherd that could play twelve songs on the flute and The Tambourine Player that played a flute and a drum or tambourine.
1774 Pierre Jacquet-Droz and his son Henri-Louis created the Draughtsman, the Musicienne and the Writer, a figure of a boy that could write messages up to 40 characters long.
The story of the Golem of Prague, an humanoid artificial intelligence activated by inscribing Hebrew letters on its forehead, based on Jewish folklore, was created by Jewish German writer Berthold Auerbach for his novel Spinoza.
1921 Czech writer Karel Čapek introduced the word "robot" in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots). The word "robot" comes from the word "robota", meaning, in Czech, "forced labour, drudgery".
1927 The Maschinenmensch (“machine-human”), a gynoid humanoid robot, also called "Parody", "Futura", "Robotrix", or the "Maria impersonator" (played by German actress Brigitte Helm), perhaps the most memorable humanoid robot ever to appear on film, is depicted in Fritz Lang's film Metropolis.
1941-42 Isaac Asimov formulates the Three Laws of Robotics, and in the process of doing so, coins the word "robotics".
1948 Norbert Wiener formulates the principles of cybernetics, the basis of practical robotics.
1961 The first digitally operated and programmable non-humanoid robot, the Unimate, is installed on a General Motors assembly line to lift hot pieces of metal from a die casting machine and stack them. It was created by George Devol and constructed by Unimation, the first robot manufacturing company.
1969 D.E. Whitney publishes his article "Resolved motion rate control of manipulators and human prosthesis".
1970 Miomir Vukobratović has proposed Zero Moment Point, a theoretical model to explain biped locomotion.
1972 Miomir Vukobratović and his associates at Mihajlo Pupin Institute build the first active anthropomorphic exoskeleton.
1973 In Waseda University, in Tokyo, Wabot-1 is built. It was able to communicate with a person in Japanese and to measure distances and directions to the objects using external receptors, artificial ears and eyes, and an artificial mouth.
1980 Marc Raibert established the MIT Leg Lab, which is dedicated to studying legged locomotion and building dynamic legged robots.
1983 Using MB Associates arms, "Greenman" was developed by Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, San Diego. It had an exoskeletal master controller with kinematic equivalency and spatial correspondence of the torso, arms, and head. Its vision system consisted of two 525-line video cameras each having a 35-degree field of view and video camera eyepiece monitors mounted in an aviator's helmet.
1984 At Waseda University, the Wabot-2 is created, a musician humanoid robot able to communicate with a person, read a normal musical score with his eyes and play tunes of average difficulty on an electronic organ.
1985 Developed by Hitachi Ltd, WHL-11 is a biped robot capable of static walking on a flat surface at 13 seconds per step and it can also turn.
1985 WASUBOT is another musician robot from Waseda University. It performed a concerto with the NHK Symphony Orchestra at the opening ceremony of the International Science and Technology Exposition.
1986 Honda developed seven biped robots which were designated E0 (Experimental Model 0) through E6. E0 was in 1986, E1 – E3 were done between 1987 and 1991, and E4 - E6 were done between 1991 and 1993.
1989 Manny was a full-scale anthropomorphic robot with 42 degrees of freedom developed at Battelle's Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Washington, for the US Army's Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. It could not walk on its own but it could crawl, and had an artificial respiratory system to simulate breathing and sweating.
1990 Tad McGeer showed that a biped mechanical structure with knees could walk passively down a sloping surface.
1993 Honda developed P1 (Prototype Model 1) through P3, an evolution from E series, with upper limbs. Developed until 1997.
1995 Hadaly was developed in Waseda University to study human-robot communication and has three subsystems: a head-eye subsystem, a voice control system for listening and speaking in Japanese, and a motion-control subsystem to use the arms to point toward campus destinations.
1995 Wabian is a human-size biped walking robot from Waseda University.
1996 Saika, a light-weight, human-size and low-cost humanoid robot, was developed at Tokyo University. Saika has a two-DOF neck, dual five-DOF upper arms, a torso and a head. Several types of hands and forearms are under development also. Developed until 1998.
1997 Hadaly-2, developed at Waseda University, is a humanoid robot which realizes interactive communication with humans. It communicates not only informationally, but also physically.
2000 Honda creates its 11th bipedal humanoid robot, ASIMO.
2001 Sony unveils small humanoid entertainment robots, dubbed Sony Dream Robot (SDR). Renamed Qrio in 2003.
2001 Fujitsu realized its first commercial humanoid robot named HOAP-1. Its successors HOAP-2 and HOAP-3 were announced in 2003 and 2005, respectively. HOAP is designed for a broad range of applications for R&D of robot technologies.
2003 JOHNNIE, an autonomous biped walking robot built at the Technical University of Munich. The main objective was to realize an anthropomorphic walking machine with a human-like, dynamically stable gait
2003 Actroid, a robot with realistic silicone "skin" developed by Osaka University in conjunction with Kokoro Company Ltd.
2004 Persia, Iran's first humanoid robot, was developed using realistic simulation by researchers of Isfahan University of Technology in conjunction with ISTT.
2004 KHR-1, a programmable bipedal humanoid robot introduced in June 2004 by a Japanese company Kondo Kagaku.
2005 The PKD Android, a conversational humanoid robot made in the likeness of science fiction novelist Philip K Dick, was developed as a collaboration between Hanson Robotics, the FedEx Institute of Technology, and the University of Memphis.
2005 Wakamaru, a Japanese domestic robot made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, primarily intended to provide companionship to elderly and disabled people.
2007 TOPIO, a ping pong playing robot developed by TOSY Robotics JSC.
2008 Justin, a humanoid robot developed by the German Space Agency (DLR).
2008 KT-X, the first international humanoid robot developed as a collaboration between the five-time consecutive RoboCup champions, Team Osaka, and KumoTek Robotics.
2008 Nexi, the first mobile, dexterous and social robot, makes its public debut as one of TIME magazine's top inventions of the year.The robot was built through a collaboration between the MIT Media Lab Personal Robots Group, Xitome Design UMass Amherst and Meka robotics.
2009 HRP-4C, a Japanese domestic robot made by National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, shows human characteristics in addition to bipedal walking.
2009 Turkey's first dynamically walking humanoid robot, SURALP, is developed by Sabanci University in conjunction with Tubitak.
2010 NASA and General Motors revealed Robonaut 2, a very advanced humanoid robot. It was part of the payload of Shuttle Discovery on the successful launch February 24, 2010. It is intended to do spacewalks for NASA.
2010 Students at the University of Tehran, Iran unveil the Surena II. It was unveiled by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
2010 Researchers at Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology demonstrate their humanoid robot HRP-4C singing and dancing along with human dancers.
2010 in September the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology also demonstrates the humanoid robot HRP-4. The HRP-4 resembles the HRP-4C in some regards but is called "athletic" and is not a gynoid.