10 Coolest Robots

1ASIMO: the humanoid robot

ASIMO is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Standing at 130 centimeters and weighing 54 kilograms, the robot resembles a small astronaut wearing a backpack, and can walk on two feet in a manner resembling human locomotion at up to 6 km/h (3.7 mph). ASIMO was created at Honda’s Research & Development Wako Fundamental Technical Research Center in Japan. It is the current model in a line of eleven which began in 1986 with E0.

Officially, the name is an acronym for “Advanced Step in Innovative MObility”. As of 2002, there were 20 ASIMO units in existence. Each one costs $1 million to manufacture, and some units are available to be hired out for $150,000 per month.

With 2000’s ASIMO model Honda added many features, labelled “Intelligence Technology”, that enable ASIMO to interact better with humans. These features fall under 5 categories:

  • Recognition of moving objects
    Using the visual information captured by the camera mounted in its head, ASIMO can detect the movements of multiple objects, assessing distance and direction. Common applications this feature would serve include: the ability to follow the movements of people with its camera, to follow a person, or greet a person when he or she approaches.
  • Recognition of postures and gestures
    ASIMO can also interpret the positioning and movement of a hand, recognizing postures and gestures. Because of this ASIMO can react and be directed not only to voice commands, but also to the natural movements of human beings. This enables it to, for example, recognize when a handshake is offered or when a person waves and respond accordingly. It can also recognize movement directions such as pointing.
  • Environment recognition
    ASIMO can recognize the objects and terrain of its environment and act in a way that is safe for both itself and nearby humans. For example, recognizing potential hazards such as stairs, and by stopping and starting to avoid hitting humans or other moving objects.
  • Distinguishing sounds
    ASIMO’s ability to identify the source of sounds has been improved, and it can distinguish between voices and other sounds. It can respond to its name, face people when being spoken to, and recognize sudden, unusual sounds such as that of a falling object or a collision, and face in that direction.
  • Facial recognition
    ASIMO has the ability to recognize faces, even when ASIMO or the human being is moving. It can individually recognize approximately 10 different faces. Once they are registered it can address them by name.

2Albert Hubo: an “Einstein” Robot

Albert HUBO is an android robot. It is composed of a head, which takes after Dr. Albert Einstein, and HUBO’s body. The development period took about 3 months, and it had been finished at November, 2005. The head part was developed by Hanson-Robotics. Its skin is a special metarial, Frubber, which oftenly be used at Hollywood.

The head has 35 joints, so it can impersonate various facial expressions using independent movements of eyes and lips. It has 2 CCD cameras to do vision recognition. Also, the body of Albert HUBO can perform all the HUBO’s performances, so it is possible to express more natural feature and movements. In the body, there are lithium polymer batteries wich can get about 2 and half hours of the operating time.

By using remote network, it is possible to access the Albert HUBO from an external computer. Albert HUBO was announced first at 2005 APEC Summit in Pusan, Korea. It was praised from many World leaders, such as the USA president, the Japanese Prime Minister and so on.

3Stanley: the autonomous vehicle

Stanley is an autonomous vehicle created by Stanford University’s Stanford Racing Team. It is a standard Volkswagen Touareg (an SUV) modified to be driven by onboard computers. It competed in, and won, the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge, earning the Stanford Racing Team the 2 million dollar prize, the largest prize money in robotic history.

The sensors used by Stanley include five LIDAR laser-ranging units, a pair of RADAR units, a stereo camera, and a single-lens camera. Position sensing was provided by a GPS receiver, a GPS compass, an inertial guidance system, and wheel odometry information provided by the Touareg’s internal CAN bus. Computing was provided by six low-power Intel Pentium M based computers running various incarnations of the Linux operating system.

Stanley was characterized by a machine learning based approach to obstacle detection. Data from the LIDARs was fused with images from the vision system to perform more distant look-ahead. If a path of drivable terrain could not be detected for at least 40 meters in front of the vehicle, speed was decreased and the LIDARs used to locate a safe passage.

Also, Stanley drove by recording how a human drove the car through the desert, then assigning an accuracy value to each bit of data generated by its slew of sensors. After this modification was made, it began to speed at 45 mph down roads which were crisscrossed by shadows of trees. Before it started assigning accuracy values to its data, it would have shied away from the road – it would have been perceived as being crisscrossed with ditches, not shadows.

4BigDog: the robotic mule

BigDog is a quadruped robot created in 2005 by Boston Dynamics. BigDog is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in the hopes that it will be able to serve as a robotic pack mule to accompany soldiers in terrain too rough for vehicles.

BigDog is a meter long, 0.7 meters tall, and weighs 75 kilograms. It is currently capable of traversing difficult terrain at 5.3 kilometers per hour, carry a 54 kilogram load, and climb a 35 degree incline.

5RiSE: the climbing robot

RiSE is a small six-legged robot that climbs vertical terrain such as walls, trees and fences. RiSE’s feet have claws, micro-claws or sticky material, depending on the climbing surface. RiSE changes posture to conform to the curvature of the climbing surface and a fixed tail helps RiSE balance on steep ascents. RiSE is about 0.25 m long, weighs 2 kg, and travels 0.3 m/s.

Each of RiSE’s six legs is powered by two electric motors. An onboard computer controls leg motion, manages communications, and services a variety of sensors. The sensors include an inertial measurement unit, joint position sensors for each leg, leg strain sensors and foot contact sensors.

Future versions of RiSE will use dry adhesion to climb sheer vertical surfaces such as glass and metal. RiSE is being developed in conjunction with researchers at University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, Stanford, and Lewis and Clark University. RiSE is funded by the DARPA Defense Sciences Office.

6QRIO: the dancing robot

QRIO (“Quest for cuRIOsity”) is a bipedal humanoid entertainment robot marketed and sold by Sony to follow up on the success of its AIBO toy. QRIO stood approximately two feet (0.6m) tall and weighed 16 pounds (7.3 kg).

QRIO is capable of voice and face recognition, making it able to remember people as well as their likes and dislikes. QRIO can run at 23cm/second, and is credited in Guinness World Records (2005 edition) as being the first (and fastest) bipedal robot capable of running. The 4th generation QRIO’s internal battery lasts about 1 hour.

Two fourth-generation Qrio prototype robots were featured dancing in Hell Yes, a music video by recording artist Beck. These prototypes lacked a third camera in the center of the forehead and the improved hands and wrists which were added to later prototypes. It took programmers three weeks to program their choreography.

7HRP-2 Promet: the robotic butler

The HRP-2 Promet is an ideal option for anyone who needs an extra helping hand. These robotic assistants can complete tasks such as controlling your TV, opening the fridge, or pulling a chair out by using just a few simple voice commands.

It even responds to requests like “Please come here” with “What can I do for you?”. Capture 3D images with its four built-in 2.8mm wide angular cameras located behind the visor.

8RHex: the Robotic Pooch

Hex is a man-portable robot with extraordinary rough terrain mobility. RHex climbs over rock fields, mud, sand, vegetation, railroad tracks, telephone poles and up steep slopes and stairways. RHex has a sealed body, making it fully operational in wet weather, in muddy and swampy conditions, and it can swim on the surface or dive underwater. RHex’s remarkable terrain capabilities have been validated in independent testing at US Government Labs.

RHex is controlled remotely from an operator control unit at distances up to 600 meters. A video uplink provides front and rear views from RHex’s onboard cameras. RHex also uplinks navigational data from onboard compass and GPS and from payload sensors. A downlink allows the operator to control mobility and to operate mission payloads.

9WR-07: a real Transformer

WR-07 is a robot created by the Japanese group Himeji Soft Works. It is a fully-functional Transformer of sorts, able to change from vehicle form to humanoid form and vice-versa.

10The lego robotic bartender

Lego blocks can be used to build just about anything, including this robotic bartender which was spotted at CeBIT 2006.