A Step Further In Bipedal Humanoid Robots Development
Robot.net reported that Honda released early November 2011 a new version of its famous humanoid robot. Asimo is now able to run at up to 9km/h (same as an average jogger), hop on one foot and do other movements showing an impressive dexterity for this class of robots. Note however that there exist other projects on human-scale bipedal humanoid robots.
In Japan, a consortium involving Kwada industries develops since year 2000 the HRP series. The initial target of HRP2 and its successors HRP3 and HRP4 is to assist factory human workers in a environment that is often challenging or inappropriate for machines in general and robots in particular (e.g. moisture, slippy surface). The HRP series has however derived a human-looking version called HRP4C. It is covered with silicon-based skin, and provides support for vocal interaction. It does also move its eyes and mouth for an improved human-robot interaction. REEM-B is a European competitor to Asimo. One originality of REEM-B is that it has a laser range sensor on each foot to perform SLAM (Simultaneous Localization And Mapping). However, the Spanish company PAL Robotics that made REEM-B decided to orient its research towards more commercially viable products in the short-term. Their latest robot REEM has an upper humanoid body mounted on a classic wheeled base. A touch screen on the torso eases human-robot interactions and applications with current on the shelve technologies.
Another european human-scale humanoid robot is Romeo, which is still a work in progress. Romeo is being developed by a consortium leaded by the french company Aldebaran Robotics, well known for its famous Nao a 57cm tall humanoid.
In the US, the most impressive work is the PETMAN humanoid robot intended to test special chemical protection clothing for the US army. It is developed by Boston Dynamics, already famous with BigDog. The online video shows PETMAN walking and doing push ups. Its smooth movements truly reproduce human ones.