Iran's Humanoid Robot Surena Walks, Stands on One Leg

IEEE Spectrum obtained videos showing that the Iranian humanoid can indeed walk


Researchers at the University of Tehran, in Iran, unveiled last month an adult-sized humanoid robot called Surena 2.

Initial press reports by Iran’s official news agencies didn’t include many details about the robot, saying only it could “walk like a human being but at a slower pace” as well as perform some other tasks, and questions surfaced about the robot’s real capabilities.

Now IEEE Spectrum has obtained more technical details about Surena and exclusive images and videos showing that the robot can indeed walk—and even stand on one leg.

Aghil Yousefi-Koma, a professor of engineering at the University of Tehran who leads the Surena project, tells me that the goal is to explore “both theoretical and experimental aspects of bipedal locomotion.”

The humanoid relies on gyroscopes and accelerometers to remain stable, and although it still moves its legs slowly, Prof. Yousefi-Koma says his team is developing a “feedback control system that provides dynamic balance, yielding a much more human-like motion.”

Surena 2, which weighs in at 45 kilograms and is 1.45 meter high, has a total of 22 degrees of freedom (DOF): legs have each 6 DOF, arms 4 DOF, and the head 2 DOF. An operator uses a remote control system to make the robot walk and move its arms and head. The robot can also bow.

Surena doesn’t have the agile arms of Hubo, the powerful legs of Petman, or the charisma of Asimo, but this is only the robot’s second-generation, built by a team of 20 engineers and students in less than two years. The first version of the robot, much simpler, with only 8 DOF, was demonstrated in late 2008.


Prof. Yousefi-Koma, who is director of both the Center for Advanced Vehicles (CAV) and the Advanced Dynamic and Control Systems Laboratory (ADCSL) at the University of Tehran, says another goal of the project is to “demonstrate to students and to the public the excitement of a career in engineering.”

For the next generation of Surena, the researchers plan to develop speech and vision capabilities and improve the robot’s overall mobility and dexterity. They also plan to give Surena “a higher level of machine intelligence,” Prof. Yousefi-Koma says, “suitable for various industrial, medical, and household applications.”

The robot was unveiled by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 3 July in Tehran as part of the country’s celebration of “Industry and Mine Day.” The robot is a joint project between the Center for Advanced Vehicles and the R&D Society of Iranian Industries and Mines.

Below, a demo the researchers gave on Iranian TV and more photos.

iran surena 2

iran surena 2 humanoid robot

Photos and videos: Center for Advanced Vehicles/University of Tehran

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