The field of robotics is exploding with new innovation, from the recent hydrogen powered jellyfish robot to a jumping sand flea, but what happened to the idea of creating humanoid robots that look, act, and move like us? Besides a few shining examples of good design, most humanoid robots have been decidedly lacking in realistic human-like movement, placing them a bit at odds with a world designed around humans and making them far less familiar for us to interact with.
Now comes a robot with a very human-like core, complete with a skeletal, muscular and nervous system. Called ECCEROBOT (Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot), the project’s goals were to build the first truly anthropomimetic robot, figure out how to control it and ultimately investigate its human-like cognitive features. Its creators at ECCE explain:
“Standard humanoid robots mimic the human form, but the mechanisms used in such robots are very different from those in humans, and the characteristics of the robots reflect this. This places severe limitations on the kinds of interactions such robots can engage in, on the knowledge they can acquire of their environment, and therefore on the nature of their cognitive engagement with the environment.”
The design uses simple, off the shelf items in its construction, making it both easily replicable and simpler to obtain parts for in varied locations. The bone-like structure of the design is created out of thermoplastic polymorph beads, which can be fused and molded at only 60° C, and can be repeatedly reformed again. For movement the structure uses small screwdriver motors connected to kite line tendons, while the elastic component of its musculature is provided my elastic shock cord.
You can tell from the videos below that the actual movement of the robot has a ways to go before it becomes both strong and natural, the general idea of the design has a lot of potential. It already moves and interacts far more realistically than most of its kin. You can find out more at eccerobot.org.
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