Humanoid Robots: Machines Moving Towards Humanity

By: Ujwala Sanjay Jadhav from Government Polytechnic, Sadar, Nagpur.

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There are concerns about the increasing use of robots and their role in society. Robots have replaced humans in performing repetitive and dangerous tasks which humans either prefer not to do or are unable to do because of size limitations. Robots may be constructed to take on humanoid form, but most robots are machines designed to perform a task with no regard to how the look. A robot can be guided by an external control device or control may be embedded within. The use of robots is increasing day by day in military combat. Humanoid robots are now used as a research tool in several scientific areas.

The era of humanoids

There are many humanoid robots in the world. Humanoid robots are being developed to perform human tasks like personal assistance, where the able to assist the sick and elderly and dirty or dangerous jobs. There are many humanoid robots like Ursula, the female that sings, plays music, dances and speaks to her audience at Universal studios. Then there’s the Asimo robot, which can walk and run as fast as 6km\hrs or 4.3mph. It also performs basic tasks like holding a platter and serving food. POPPY is another robot designed to conduct scientific experiments. Romeo robot which designed to avoid the risk of injury to the person that will attend. iCub robot was designed to test hypothesis. There are many humanoids under development, but here we focus on the advancing humanoid robot Atlas, by Boston Dynamics.

Atlas: A step ahead

Atlas is a bipedal humanoid robot primarily developed by the American robotics company Boston Dynamics, with funding and oversight from the United States Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA). Atlas is based on Boston Dynamics earlier PETMAN humanoid robot. It has four hydraulically actuated limbs. It has constructed of aluminium and titanium. There are many actuators are use in humanoid robots like pneumatic, piezoelectric or ultrasonic. But In Atlas, hydraulic actuator is used in which a cylinder or fluid motor that converts hydraulic power into useful mechanical work. Atlas holds the title of one of the most advanced humanoid robot ever built. Atlas is about to create the most realistic and accurate representation of human movement possible. The reason behind this humanoid robot’s success manifests itself in 28 individual hydraulic joints which gives Atlas a full range of motion. Atlas can use all four limbs to navigate through rough terrains and access hazardous areas which a human being could not.

There was a time before Atlas performed backflips, when robots were only for vacuuming and factories, none of the useful once were humanoid. Now we are living in era where humanoid robots are seemingly as smart as we are. A humanoid robot is a robot with its body shape built to match the human body. In general humanoid robots have a torso, two arms, two legs, a head and some humanoid robots also have heads designed to simulate human face very similar to the ones in I-robot. This robot design may interact with human tools and environment for do experiments, study of locomotion or many other purpose. Smart robotics are going to be a key driver of the next stage of the information revolution. Atlas is the latest in a line of advanced humanoid robots has been developed. Atlas control system coordinates motions of the arms, torso and legs to achieve whole body mobile manipulation greatly expanding it.

The development of the humanoid

Some other robots have been shown performing backflips in the past, but Boston Dynamic introduced new robot called handle with a four-foot vertical jump, but it was a wheeled robot. All it needed of software improvement it gets the balancing algorithm and see we could finally have jumping robots. A humanoid strong enough to jump like that is capable of any typical human motion. Atlas is now capable of much more specific and complex movements. Atlas can easily leap from one box to another, jump and torques its full 180lb body in a 180degree turn. It can perform backflip landing safely on its feet. This robot is not only good at backflip but also at strenuous activities like lifting loads and placing them back. Atlas can balance while performing task allowing it to work in a large capacity.
The atlas hardware is built out of 3D printing to save weight and space. It has a high strength to weight ratio. It can get up by itself after falling.

Sitting down, standing up, getting in and out of cars, stairs, ground, all moves which are performed by humans who cannot land a backflip. A backflip is an amazing and talented work of mechanical engineers and software controllers. It’s all about balancing and power. Atlas is about to create the most realistic and accurate representation of human movement possible.

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