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Pregnant with an Idea: Swiss Researchers to Give Birth to Roboy in 2013

Topics: Technology | Add A CommentBy admin | December 26, 2012

A human-like robot child? What could possibly go wrong? Apparently they don’t watch Sci-fi movies in Switzerland.

Dear Lord. Didn’t the folks at the University of Zurich see Artificial Intelligence or the Spanish film EVA? Apparently not, or they wouldn’t have embarked on a nine month journey to give birth to one of the world’s most advanced humanoid robots, a tendon-driven “service robot” modeled on human beings. Hopefully Roboy’s similarities to humans end at the gestation period and tendon-driven movement (most humanoid robots have motors in the joints, giving them that, er, robotic movement) and he won’t be imbued with the sentience that makes all the best movie robots go nuts. We’ve been poking fun at robots since we first went online back in 2008, mostly to point out how much your robot sucks , even if it’s sucking less all the time. But this University of Zurich project is intriguing in a number of ways that set it apart from other robot projects of the last few years. For one, although the actual production of the robot is supported by corporate sponsors, the overall development is being open-sourced. As much progress as companies like Honda have made with their proprietary corporate approach, it seems somehow reasonable to expect that the final leaps toward a robot human enough to be truly creepy will come from collective “parenting” of crowdsourced human inspiration. Second, the group developing Roboy is intentionally placing considerable emphasis on the “human-ness” of robotic design, as is evident in their ECCE project (video below). Those of us who have seen enough dystopian robot sci-fi movies will find little comfort in the words that create the acronym for the ECCEROBOT, i.e.: “Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot”. I for one like to start with the assumption that a robot is “compliantly engineered”, not be reassured of the fact in the robot’s very name! But enough poking fun. The truth is that the reality of human-like robots is probably approaching faster than we think. The U of Z projects are being built largely with almost “off the shelf” components; imagine what a bunch of financing and design-specific parts could do. You can still support the Roboy project HERE, and maybe we should. Maybe we can get a head start on the inevitable Oppressionbots the US Military is probably working on in secret. See the ECCE video below.

ECCEROBOT – Embodied Cognition in a Compliantly Engineered Robot
The starting point of the Roboboy project.