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Now, humanoid robot that sees and maps in 3D

Last Updated: Thursday, July 4, 2013 - 19:17

London: Researchers have developed one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world that maps reference relative to its surroundings and is able to "remember" where it has been before.

Computer vision algorithms enable the latest humanoid robot, Roboray, developed by researchers from the University of Bristol, to build real-time 3D visual maps to move around more efficiently.

The ability to build visual maps quickly and anywhere by using cameras is essential for autonomous robot navigation, in particular when the robot gets into places that have no global positioning system (GPS) signals or other references.

Roboray is one of the most advanced humanoid robots in the world, with a height of 140 cm and a weight of 50 kg. It has a stereo camera on its head and 53 different actuators including six for each leg and 12 for each hand, researchers said.

The robot features a range of novel technologies. In particular it walks in a more human-like manner by using what is known as dynamic walking. This means that the robot is falling at every step, using gravity to carry it forward without much energy use.
This is the way humans walk and is in contrast to most other humanoid robots that "bend their knees to keep the centre of mass low and stable". This way of walking is also more challenging for the computer vision algorithms as objects in images move more quickly.

"A humanoid robot has an ideal shape to use the same tools and spaces designed for people, as well as a good test bed to develop machine intelligence designed for human interaction," Dr Walterio Mayol-Cuevas, Deputy Director of the Bristol Robotics Lab, said.

"Robots that close the gap with human behaviours, such as by featuring dynamic walking, will not only allow more energy efficiency but be better accepted by people as they move in a more natural manner," said Mayol-Cuevas.

The technology of rapid 3D visual mapping is internationally renowned because of its ability to robustly track and recover from rapid motions and occlusions, which is essential for when the humanoid moves and turns at normal walking speeds, researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Advanced Robotics.


First Published: Thursday, July 4, 2013 - 19:17

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