The first modern attempts at making human-like robots can be dated back to Sony’s 2003 Qiro. It looked like a toy but had hands and legs. It was a bipedal robot that could walk on two legs. It had cameras that enabled it to see the world around it. But, a lot more was coming. Today, some 20 years later, the scenario has changed a lot.
How Electronics Enabled Better Robots?
Not just with humanoids, but robots in other spheres like underwater bots or aerial bots have improved a lot since their first use. From working alongside humans in factories, these machines, are now walking and talking to humans in their own language. With exteroceptive sensors like laser scanning, stereo vision these humanoids, as well as other robots, can see the world. They can recognize objects, faces and try to remember things.
With AI, the goal of computer vision called ‘Object Recognition’ has advanced a lot. It can now not just recognize, but recall, localize and label them. Despite the fact that these objects can appear under different scenarios, in different backgrounds, under different lighting conditions and occlusions, the robots can still recognize them and remember them when they see them again.
The Challenge for Engineers
The researchers around the world have been working together for bringing modern technology from control systems, computer vision, and mobile robotics together into one platform. That is what makes robots so human. It is not a single domain anymore but an interdisciplinary one that handles tasks from all aspects together.
Each year you can find a lot of conferences in these fields such as those from IEEE sponsoring the development and outreach of research in this field. This enables companies to invest and create prototypes of these theoretical proven concepts. When these computer programs leap from the mathematical journals and scientific research papers into realistic models and products, humanoids like Qrio from Sony or Atlas from ‘Boston Dynamics’ become a reality. These could not have been possible without electronics, material science, mathematics, control theory and many other disciplines that go together to fulfill a single complex mechanical human being.
Humanoids now have attitudes, feelings, and emotions. They can talk back and respond to conversations. They can help carry your luggage. They can help you find your destination in an airport by autonomously driving the cart.
Yet, a lot is there to do for making them more capable, intelligent, and a friend to humans. They are getting better but still far away. They cannot run on battery for long. They are not so aesthetically pleasing.
Today, robots have become an integral part of our society where without them nothing is possible. There is some form of automation in every place. But, to have humanoids work and coexists with humans like their friends, we are still far away. But, with the advancement in exteroceptive sensors, computing power, and miniaturization, we are getting there quite faster than ever before.