What is a humanoid robot? What are the latest advancements?

If you’re anything of a science fiction buff, chances are you have already had dream of robots taking over our jobs. A world where public servants are robots, and everything is steel and mechanical!

Robots are machines capable of carrying out complex functions faster, and with ease. Usually, the appearance of robot doesn’t make an impact, as long as it performs.

Now, we have an entirely new segment of good looking robots called Humanoid Robots. This brings us to our first question:

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What is a humanoid robot?


When a robot looks like a human, with limbs, torso and a head, it is called a humanoid robot.

Not only looks. It can also perform humanly actions like walking, running, lifting etc.

ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) was one of the first significant humanoids. The considerable amount of research done by Honda in 1980s led to the creation of this bi-pedal robot.

Humanoid robots are capable of self-maintenance and autonomous learning. Apart from that, it can also avoid harmful situations for people and itself. The humanoid robot can also interact with human beings and the environment in an amicable manner.

Like us, robots also function with a bunch of pre-set regulations!

Isaac Asimov's three laws of Robotics states:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
  2. A robot must obey orders given by humans, unless it will harm the species themselves
  3. A robot must protect itself as long as protection does not conflict with first two laws

This does sound like work of an extensive coder, doesn't it? A lot of programming goes into little things like making a robot to stand upright.

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Humanoids is a fresh research subject. Sure, we already know how to make robots, but building a humanoid robot is not a simple task. It requires a good amount of technical knowledge and understanding about the various mechanical systems.

Why research on humanoid robots is important?

It is a fact that a lot of things are understood by imitating others' actions. A humanoid can employ its imitation mechanism by understanding humans around it. This will make the humanoid robot socially intelligent.

The humanoid robot can also use this mechanism for distinguishing itself from others. However, imitation must be used selectively.

Therefore, there are four primary problems associated with a humanoid.

  1. How does the humanoid robot know when to imitate?
  2. How does the humanoid robot know what to imitate?
  3. How does the humanoid robot map response to observed actions?
  4. How does the humanoid robot test errors, and recognize when it has achieved its goal?

We need to make humanoid robots more efficient, intelligent and self-sufficient. This opens up a lot of research options for enthusiastic students like you all over the world.

There are no specific courses on humanoids, but one can always specialize in this field by developing the necessary technical knowledge by developing projects.

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So, what are humanoid robot’s applications?

Utility of Humanoid Robots are endless!

According to the Boston Consulting Group, by 2025, robots will perform 25% of all labour tasks. Industries which will be impacted the most are: computer and electronic products; electrical equipment and appliances; transportation equipment; and machinery.

Although robots are used extensively in the industry, there are very few places where a humanoid robot was found having any use. This is mainly due to its robust nature and inability to carryout tasks efficiently.

Different industries have started tapping the potential of humanoid robots recently, for engineering tasks.

Joint Robotics Laboratory and Airbus paired up to use humanoid technology in aircraft manufacturing facilities. Many aspects of aircraft manufacture are laborious and extremely dangerous. By using humanoids on the assembly line, a lot of risk will be relieved. Human employees can be assigned for tasks which carry more value and precision.

Softbank Robotics has created a robot that can be used as a medical assistant and so far, these humanoid robots have been doing a great job as a companion.

Over the years Humanoid robots have been amazingly effective in the medical industry. There have been instances where a child with autism acquired better motor skills by just copying a humanoid robot.

For stroke recovery patients, upper extremity exercises were taken care of by the humanoid robots. There is a lot of potential for humanoid robots in numerous industries.

Humanoids are here to change the industries as we see it. As the repetitive and laborious tasks will be taken care of by humanoid robots, we will have more man power for tasks of higher value. These humanoid robots can climb ladders, go to numerous places where a human can’t and endure radiations which are fatal to humans.

Every year, thousands of deaths occur due to workplace accidents like slip and fall, asphyxiation, mining explosions, forklift accident etc. If we replace human beings with humanoid robots, we can save a lot of lives every year, while also increasing the production rate.

Humanoid robots might be the reason for a new industrial revolution. We must see them as an opportunity, instead of a threat.  

For this very reason, a lot of institutions have taken it upon themselves, to introduce new developments in this field. Let’s look into some of them

What are the latest advancements on humanoid robotics?

Joint Robotics Laboratory have developed HRP-2 and HRP-4 robots which employ multi-contact locomotion technology for moving around. These humanoid robots makes use of its entire body to make contact with the environment, instead of just its feet. This gives the robot increased stability and accuracy for performing different tasks.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology has come up with a new machine learning technique which will allow non-coders to teach a robot new movements and tasks by just giving a demo. They call this technology “C-learn” where the “C” stands for constraints.

In February of 2016, a Hong Kong based company activated Sophia, a gynoid who borrows her looks from Audrey Hepburn. Sophia is a social humanoid who participated in a lot of high-profile interviews. Sophia uses Artificial Intelligence, visual data processing and facial recognition.

She is designed to get smarter over time. In November of 2017, Sophia was named UNDP’s first ever Innovation Champion and thereby, became the first humanoid to ever be given a United Nations Title. She was granted Saudi Arabian citizenship, hence becoming the first humanoid to have a citizenship.

Meanwhile at Columbia University, engineers are finding ways to replicate a human muscle. They have been making use of a material popularly known as “Electroactive polymer”. They were successful in creating a muscle that can lift thousand times its own weight by push, pull, bend and even twist.

However, there still exist too many loose ends which needs to be fixed. For example, what we need to make is a general, all-purpose humanoid that can perform any task, and not a specific one.

How to get started with Humanoid Robotics?

Since this is an upcoming technology, there are no courses offered by any institution to help one get started with Humanoid Robotics. However, one credible approach to this would be engaging in building hands-on projects. You can start by making a simple humanoid that can walk, run and simply move around. The rest of the world is already quite ahead with humanoid robots that can assemble an entire airplane! If you want to get into this field, the best way to do it is by getting your hands dirty.

Participate in various competitions to understand better how humanoid robots can be built.

Explore around, build your own humanoid robots from scratch. There are a lot of scattered resources on the internet, but Skyfi Labs is the best place to start, because we have developed an innovative learning methodology through which you can learn how to make a biped like ASIMO right from your home with 100% output!

With the quality kits shipped to your doorstep and excellent technical assistance provided, you are sure to get skilled in humanoid robotics in an easy manner.

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Good luck!

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What is a humanoid robot? What are the latest advancements?
Skyfi Labs Last Updated: 2021-05-04

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