Swiss scientists are preparing to unveil a humanoid robot which they say represents a future in which automotons co-exist naturally with people. Called "Roboy", the robot has been designed to function much like a person, for use as a helper in the factory or the home.
ZURICH-OERLIKON, SWITZERLAND (REUTERS) - Scientists at Zurich University's Artificial Intelligence lab are building a humanoid robot known as Roboy. They say Roboy will be 'the first prototype of the next generation of humanoid robots.' More than 40 engineerrs have been involved in Roby's development. Their goal is to complete him within a time-frame of only nine months.
Roboy is a tendon driven robot, modelled on human anatomy. Professor Rolf Pfeiffer is director of the lab where Roboy is taking shape.
"It is a so-called humanoid robot, which is a robot that has some resemblance to a human being. Now traditionally most robots have motors in their joints. But humans don't have motors in their joints and we try to be more realistic in terms of imitating human beings. Humans have bones, joints, muscles and tendons, so this is also called a tendon driven robot," said Pfeiffer.
The artificial tendons will enable Roboy's movements to be smoother than other robots'. Pfeiffer wants to Roboy to walk like a human.
"We think that with this technology, where the tendons are pulled over the joints, we can achieve much smoother movements than with other robots and that's one of the goals," added Pfeiffer.
Roboy will be a "soft" robot - an automoton that's soft to the touch and human-like in its response to people. Its developers say the robot has been designed to inetegrate with
society either as a factory worker or as a service robot in the home for household chores or helper for the elderly.
''It can be used in a household environment, it can be used in a manufacturing environment, wherever we co-operate with people and I think this co-operation is very important. the human-robot, human-machine co-operation. Providing technology, also we often talk about the ageing population, providing technology that will help the people to be autonomous for as long as possible," said Pfeiffer.
The humanoid robot is being built in stages, and when completed he will measure around 1.2 metres (4 feet) in height. His torso, completed in six months, is supported by a flexible spinal cord.
Professor Pfeiffer says that Roby represents a new phase in robotics where automotons become part of society at large.
"We're using technology already to sort of improve our deficient physiological functions, and I just see it as a continuum, we will have more and more sophisticated kinds of machines that will help us, but we will get used to them and we'll think they're extremely useful."
Several research institutions and companies are involved in the robot's creation. But unlike conventional financing, the team here are using crowdfunding, an online system where people can donate money to the project. In return they can have their company logo etched on Roboy.
Not only will Roboy be built to move like humans, but he will also be programmed to recognise people's faces.
And just like a new-born baby, in March, having been in the lab for nine months, Roboy will be unveiled at the Robots on Tour Exhibition in March, after which he'll be available for hire at private events.