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Humanoid Robots at Innorobo 2014

Humanoid Robots at Innorobo 2014

We dedicate this post to humanoid robots since they were massively present at innorobo 2014. We will be presenting the most prominent representatives. We group them in two categories:

  • Medium size humanoids: are the ones of a size close to Nao (roughly between 50 and 80 centimeters)
  • Regular size humanoids: are the ones that are as big as an actual human (a child or an adult)

Medium Size Humanoids
Video 1 below shows three representatives of this category of medium size humanoids. Those are of course Nao, Darwin-OP and Poppy. There were several stands with several demos of Nao. But, the most important news is related to Aldebaran’s commercial strategy that becomes more aggressive. This translates into a significant price drop of the Nao: approx. 40% off the original price! So, you can get one with less than $8000 or 7000 Euros (taxes and shipping not included). This makes it really close to the cost of a Poppy, the 3D printed open source humanoid. So, expect Nao invading the market in the upcoming years.


Video 1: Medium Size Humanoids at Innorobo 2014

However, competition has serious arguments. As shown in Video 1, Poppy walk, while still assisted in much more realistic compared to Nao. It really mimics a child learning to walk. Actually, Poppy initial design was meant to remain very close to proportions and articulations of a human body. There is still work to be done to make it fully stable, but the result is already impressive and much more natural compared to other humanoids. Poppy is also attractive because it is fully open source. But, it’s not the only one. Darwin-OP is another open source competitor to Nao. The 3D-printed version is supposed to be the cheapest of this category (about $6000). Darwin is also interesting because of its speed and reliability. On Video 1, you can see how fast it is to track and kick a ball.

Regular Size Humanoids
Many players of the regular size humanoids field didn’t make it to innorobo 2014. There were no Atlas (Boston Dynamics), no Hubo or any other participant to the trials of the Darpa Robotics Challenge. The japanese Honda Asimo and Kawada HRP-4 were absent too. Instead, there were only european humanoids as shown by Video 2.


Video 2: Regular Size Humanoids at Innorobo 2014

Aldebaran Robotics had the largest stand of the event. They were showcasing Romeo, the long awaited Nao’s bigger brother. Although it is promising, they are far behind competition. Romeo barely moves its upper limbs. Besides, while it can stand, walking raises such a challenge that engineers from Aldebaran didn’t cope with yet. It seems that solutions applied to Nao do not scale to bigger robots.

The most serious competitor for Aldebaran is a spanish company named Pal Robotics. They were confident enough with their humanoid Reem-C (the third generation of this series) to let it walk around without safety net. One of the originalities of this robot is the use of laser scanners located on its feet (see zoom in at the end of Video 2). Interestingly, it is one of the few robots of this category that is compliant with ROS, the de facto standard robotics middleware.

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