Slideshow: Born Bionic

These robots are pushing the envelope of humanoid design--they can play the trumpet, unload a dishwasher, and climb stairs

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Androniki Christodoulou/WPN

BABBLING BOT

Osaka University researchers built the CB2 robot to mimic the appearance and behavior of an infant. With dozens of air-powered actuators and nearly 200 tactile sensors under its silicone skin, the robot baby can babble, blink, and move its head and limbs. The goal of the project is to study both child development and human-robot interaction.

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This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Anybots

SILICON SERVANT

Anybots, in Mountain View, Calif., is developing tele-operated mechanical servants like Monty, a two-armed wheeled robot equipped with gyroscopes, force sensors, and actuators powered by ultracapacitors. Anybots’ founders see a future in which a low-paid worker might remotely control a robot in your kitchen.

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This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Shigeki Sugano Laboratory/Department of Modern Mechanical Engineering/Waseda University

TOAST MASTER

Twendy-One is a 47-degrees-of-freedom, 1.5-meter tall humanoid developed at Waseda University, in Japan, to help disabled people with household tasks. With a six-axis force sensor in each fingertip, the robot can grasp soft objects like paper cups as well as manipulate small items like a straws or pencils.

For more articles, videos, and special features, go to The Singularity Special Report

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Indiana University

WHO’S WHO?

Chinese roboticist Zou Ren Ti, of the Xi’an Chaoren Sculpture Research Institute, sits next to his android twin [right]. With lifelike skin made of silica gel, the robot can move its neck, eyes, and mouth and often confound people when sitting beside its flesh-and-blood counterpart.

For more articles, videos, and special features, go to The Singularity Special Report

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Hanson Robotics

GENIUS HEAD

Albert Hubo is 1.4-meter-tall battery-powered walking humanoid with realistic, humanlike facial expressions. The robotic body was developed by researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and the head is a creation of Hanson Robotics, a Texas company that makes interactive conversational robots.

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This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Gordon Cheng/Jan Moren/National Institute of Information and Communications Technology

NERVES OF STEEL

Developed at the National Institute of Information and Communications Technology in Japan, i-1 is a 50-degrees-of-freedom, freestanding, full-body humanoid. With stereoscopic cameras as eyes and microphones as ears, the robot is helping researchers study how humans interact and communicate with machines.

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Photo: Jan Moren

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Honda

MECHANICAL MAESTRO

Honda keeps improving its famed Asimo humanoid. The latest version can dance, climb stairs, and has even conducted the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. At the company’s Tokyo headquarters, Honda engineers are currently testing out Asimo’s ability to guide visitors and deliver refreshments.

For more articles, videos, and special features, go to The Singularity Special Report

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Toyota

DEXTEROUS DROID

Toyota’s Partner robots include little droids that play the trumpet and the violin. The company’s goal is to demonstrate advanced manipulation capabilities, including the ability to grasp small objects. The robots are still largely tele-operated, but Toyota plans to make them more autonomous and eventually test them in nursing homes and hospitals.

For more articles, videos, and special features, go to The Singularity Special Report

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Yves Gellie/Corbis

DOMO ARIGATO

The Actroid DER2 female humanoid was developed by Japanese entertainment firm Kokoro Co. and Osaka University. The lifelike droid, which can talk and gesticulate, is one of several Actroid models that the company offers for rent with various costumes and choreography options.

For more articles, videos, and special features, go to The Singularity Special Report

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's SPECIAL REPORT: THE SINGULARITY

Photo: Tamim Asfour

KITCHEN KINETICS

German researchers at the University of Karlsruhe designed their ARMAR III humanoid to closely mimic the sensory and motor capabilities of humans. The goal is to use the 45 degrees-of-freedom humanoid to study how robots can safely coexist with people and assist them in a wide variety of domestic tasks.

For more articles, videos, and special features, go to The Singularity Special Report

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