By Kal Kaur
Topics CoveredIntroductionASIMO – Basic FunctionASIMO – Cognitive Ability and Task PerformanceHumanoid Robots – Challenges and Future WorkReferences
By introducing humanoid interaction with the surrounding environment, these robots can then form relationships and decisions and share emotions. Robots are capable of adapting to unexpected situations by accomplishing tasks using knowledge acquired from autonomous interactions with the world. Humanoids can exhibit their existing potential and create new behaviors with the help of various machine learning methods, which would result in the evolution of a humanoid population having unique characteristics.
In addition to its contribution to the study of cognitive development, humanoid robotics also provides a research tool for the study of the human body and brain. Humanoids prove to be the ideal robotic design for interaction with the environment.
ASIMO – Basic Function
ASIMO, the two-legged walking technology, developed by Honda is a distinct approach to overcome the challenges faced in autonomous locomotion. The robot is small in size, user-friendly and provided with intelligent, real-time, flexible-walking i-WALK technology, which enables it to walk smoothly and stably.
The basic functions of ASIMO are:
- The operating pressure of the robotic hand is sensitive to remote operation and this allows the robot to perform complex tasks.
- Target point movement- The robot recognizes the markers on the floor along with other spots using a camera from the erect point. A target point is designated by the robot once it estimates its current location and direction. Minimum amount of walking required for the robot to move from its present location to target point is then calculated.
- Climbing/descending stairs- The steps used by the robot are measured using a 6-axis force sensor.
- Passing through doorways- The robot is capable of opening and closing the doors while using the doorways. The steps are estimated with respect to the opening and closing of the door.
- Cart pushing – The robot has the ability to push the carts at a preset speed. However, the robot reduces its motion if the cart is subjected to any kind of resistance in order to avoid excessive pushing.
- Carrying things- The robot can carry weight up to 2 kg in each arm while walking.
The following video by Honda demonstrates some of the above features.
ASIMO – Cognitive Ability and Task Performance
ASIMO is designed with a compact and highly functional multi-fingered hand. A force sensor and a tactile sensor are engineered into the palm of ASIMO's hand. Using the object recognition technology developed based on tactile and visual senses, the multi-fingered hand allows the robot to accomplish tasks skillfully. The robot can also make sign language expressions for which intricate finger movements are required.
Using advanced intelligence technology, ASIMO can evaluate inputs obtained from multiple sensors. Sensors including tactile, auditory, and image sensors are fundamental to imitating the senses to a human body and thus makes this robot more likely to function and interact successfully in its surrounding environment.
This novel technology is designed to evaluate the sensory input from its environment - information which serves as a basis for allowing the robot to manipulate its behaviour based on the changes in its surroundings and respond directly with movement of people. In addition, ASIMO can simultaneously recognize voices of multiple people using the coordination between auditory and visual sensors. This latter function is fundamental to recognition of familiar faces for the robot and paves the way for future research to investigate how this technology can be developed further when it comes to the application of robots in teaching children and exploring cognitive development.
Moreover, ASIMO has the capability to predict the direction of motion of a person according to the information obtained from pre-set space sensors, thus avoiding collision with the person by taking an alternate route.
Humanoid Robots – Challenges and Future Work
Some of the challenges involved in developing humanoid robots are:
- Complex management of a high number of degrees of freedom
- Light-weight frames
- Efficient locomotion
- Robust control
- Multimodal perception
- Soft covers
- Team coordination
- Artificial muscles
- Energy supply.
Communication robots like WE-4RII, Joy and Wabian-RII are being developed to address the modalities like facial expression, eye gaze, speech and gestures. However, gynoids and androids that focus on photorealistic human-like appearance are the ultimate form of communication robots.