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Humanoids, Stand Up! Featured Pattern: P0935 June 2016

Humanoid robots are advancing and becoming increasingly capable of mimicking human movements.

Abstracts in this Pattern:

Boston Dynamics, part of Alphabet's (Mountain View, California) Google X division, recently released a video that highlights the capabilities of the new version of its Atlas humanoid robot. The video shows the 180-pound, 5-foot-9-inch-tall robot walking over uneven snow-covered terrain, walking through doors, and using its two arms to lift boxes off the floor and place them on shelves. The video also shows how the Atlas can stand up after an operator knocks it over. The Atlas provides a strong example of how quickly humanoid robots are advancing.

Because humanoid robots mimic human anatomy, developers can adapt them to function in and interact with existing human environments rather than adapt existing human environments to suit the robots. The Joint Robotics Laboratory (Tsukuba, Japan)—a partnership between the National Center for Scientific Research (Paris, France) and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Tokyo, Japan)—recently partnered with aerospace company Airbus Group (Leiden, Netherlands) to collaborate on a four-year research project. The goal of the project is to develop robotics technologies that will enable humanoid robots to perform strenuous and dangerous tasks in aircraft manufacturing so human workers can focus on high-skill tasks. Industrial robots such as those in use in auto manufacturing have not become common in aircraft manufacturing for several reasons—for example, they lack the mobility necessary to use stairs and ladders, navigate around obstacles on the ground, and work in confined spaces. The research will focus on developing technologies that will enable humanoid robots to interact with challenging work environments much as human workers do.

SRI International (Menlo Park, California) and Yamaha Motor Company (Iwata, Japan) are collaborating to develop Motobot—an autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot. Motobot will ride an unmodified motorcycle in the same way humans do. The goal of the project is "to aid development of future motorcycles, improve motorcycle safety, and push the limits of what is possible in design and performance."