Humanoid robot is coming of age

Eight years ago, The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency organized a eye pain contest involves the robot slowly (and often failing) having difficulty performing a range of human tasks, including opening doors, operating power tools, and driving golf carts. The clip of them fumbling and stumbling Darpa Robot Challenge quickly spread.

DARPA through Will Knight

Today, the descendants of those less fortunate cyborgs are far more capable and graceful. Several startups are developing humanoid robots that they say could find work in warehouses and factories in just a few years.

Jerry Pratta senior research scientist at the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a nonprofit research institute in Florida, led a team that finished second in the Darpa challenge in 2015. He is now a co-founder. belong to AI imageA company that builds humanoid robots designed for warehouse work today announced $70 million in investment funding.

Pratt said that if Darpa’s challenge were taken today, the robot would be able to complete the challenges in about a quarter of the 50 minutes his robot would have completed the track with little chance. problem. “From a technical point of view, a lot of assistive technology has emerged recently,” he said.

More advanced computer vision, made possible through developments in machine learning over the past decade, has made it a lot easier for machines to navigate complex environments and perform tasks like climbing stairs and grasping objects. More dense the batterymade possible by the development of electric vehicles, has also made it possible to pack enough water into the humanoid robot so that the humanoid robot moves its legs fast enough for dynamic balance—that is, stabilizing itself when gliding or guessing. one step wrong, as humans can.

Pratt says his company’s robot is taking its first steps around a simulated warehouse in Sunnyvale, California. Brett Adcock, CEO of Figure, thinks it’s possible to build a humanoid robot at the same cost as a car, as long as there’s enough demand to ramp up production.

If Adcock is right about that, the robotics field is approaching a pivotal moment. You are probably familiar with dancing humanoid robot Atlas has been amassing YouTube likes for several years. They are manufactured by Boston Dynamics, pioneer in walking on foot built several humanoid robots used at the Darpa competition and showed that it is possible to create robots capable of taking on human forms. But these robots were extremely expensive—the original Atlas cost several million dollars—and lacked the necessary software to make them autonomous and useful.

Robot Apptronik Astra.Courtesy of Apptronik

Figure isn’t the only company betting that humanoid robots are maturing. others include 1X, applicationAnd Tesla. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, visited the original Darpa Robot Challenge in 2015. The fact that he is now interested in building a humanoid himself suggests that some technology is needed to making such a machine is finally possible.

Jonathan Hursta professor at Oregon State University and co-founder of agile robot, also participated in the Darpa challenge to give a demo of a walking robot he built. Agility has been working on legged robots for some time, but Hurst says the company has taken a physical-first approach to locomotion rather than mechanically replicating human limbs. Although its robots are humanoid, they have legs that look like they were inspired by an ostrich.


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