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TALOS Humanoid Now Available from PAL Robotics

PAL Robotics hopes that within the next five years, TALOS will be working side by side with humans

2 min read
TALOS humanoid robot from PAL Robotics
TALOS humanoid robot from PAL Robotics.
Photo: PAL Robotics

If you are a roboticist and you want to work with humanoids but you don’t want to build a robot from scratch, PAL Robotics would be happy to sell you one. The Spanish robot maker is introducing a new option that improves on its REEM humanoids: TALOS is a 32-degrees-of-freedom, 1.75-meter-tall, 100-kilogram robot designed for dynamic walking, heavy lifting, and (eventually) assisting humans with all of those tasks that we really don’t want to be doing.

PAL Robotics designed TALOS with the intention of having the robot “work on physically demanding and accurate tasks performed under hostile or uncomfortable industrial settings,” according to PAL CEO Francesco Ferro. This means that the robot is not just a research platform—it’s going to start out in research, as many robots do, but PAL hopes it can transition into doing useful tasks in the real world, a thing that humanoid robots in general aren’t known for.

TALOS humanoid robot from PAL Robotics

Image: PAL Robotics
TALOS is a 32-degrees-of-freedom humanoid robot: It has 6-DoF legs, 7-DoF arms, 1-DoF hands, 2-DoF neck, and 2-DoF waist.

Right out of the box (and we assume it’s a pretty big box), TALOS can walk at 3 km/h, it can handle traveling over irregular surfaces, and its battery can keep it running for up to 3 hours (depending on what the robot is doing). The robot is powered by ROS (hooray!), and full EtherCAT communications allow its internal networks to run control loops in the kilohertz range. It has 7-DoF arms, each of which can lift an impressive 6 kilograms at full extension. It’s modular and upgradeable in both hardware and software.

The first TALOS (named Pyrène) is already hard at work at the Laboratory for Analysis and Architecture Systems (LAAS-CNRS) in Toulouse, France:

Full-size humanoid robots are a tricky business, so we asked PAL Robotics what the story is behind TALOS:

We believe that our environment is tailored to us, humans, and as such, in the long term, we will need a robot that is able to adapt to our human environments. TALOS has been on our roadmap for a while and we are glad that we were able to work with LAAS-CNRS to have this first unit available and working already for research purposes. It has really proven to be a huge engineering challenge for us and we are very satisfied with the end result. 

PAL Robotics hopes that within the next five years, TALOS will be working side by side with humans doing manipulation in industrial applications. Longer term, there’s potential for working in search and rescue, or in other areas where it’s too dangerous to send humans. It’s this kind of thing that TALOS is ideal for, and that’s reflected in the cost—at something around 1 million, the best place for a robot like this is where a robot like this is the only safe option.

[ PAL Robotics ]

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How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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