Today we find most robots working for people in industries, factories, warehouses, and laboratories. Robots are useful in many ways. For instance, it boosts economy because businesses need to be efficient to keep up with the industry competition.
Therefore, having robots helps business owners to be competitive, because robots can do jobs better and faster than humans can, e.g. robot can built, assemble a car.
Yet robots cannot perform every job; today robots roles include assisting research and industry. Finally, as the technology improves, there will be new ways to use robots which will bring new hopes and new potentials.
Features of Humanoids
A Humanoid may be defined as something that resembles or looks like a human and having characteristics like opposable thumb, ability to walk in upright position, etc. Nowadays the concept of Humanoids is being widely implemented in Robotics and these robots are called Humanoid Robots or may be simply “Humanoids”.
In general Humanoid robots have a torso with a head, two arms and two legs, although some forms of humanoid robots may model only part of the body, for example, from the waist up. Some humanoid robots may also have a ‘face’, with ‘eyes’ and ‘mouth’. Androids are humanoid robots built to resemble a male human, and Gynoids are humanoid robots built to resemble a human female. A Humanoid robot is fully automated as it can adapt to its surroundings and continue with its goals.
Technical Components: Sensors and Actuators
The two most important components of Humanoid Robots are Sensors and Actuators.
Sensors are the devices which sense something, like environmental parameters (heat, sound, light, temperature, etc), physical and physiological parameters (like movement, orientation, etc.). Actuators are nothing but the motors which are responsible for the motion and movement of the robots.
1. Sensors: Proprioceptive and Extroceptive
The position, orientation and the speed of humanoid’s body and joint are sensed by the proprioceptive sensors which consist of accelerometers, tilt sensors, etc. Extroceptive sensors consist of arrays of tactels (touch receptors) which are used to provide data on what is being touched, forces and torques transferred between robots and other objects. In humanoid robots, CCD cameras are used for capturing image information and microphones and speakers are used for sound reception and production respectively.
Actuators are used to perform like joints and muscles. Mostly humanoid robots use rotator actuators to achieve the effect as human motion. The actuators can be pneumatic, hydraulic, electric or ultrasonic.
Challenges before Humanoid Robotics
The prime problems facing Humanoid research can be given as following four questions:
(1) How does the robot know when to imitate?
(2) How does the robot know what to imitate?
(3) How does the robot map observed actions into behavioural responses?
(4) How does the robot evaluate its actions, correct errors, and recognize when it has achieved its goal?
A socially intelligent robot should be able to use imitation for the variety of purposes that humans do. Imitation can be a mechanism for developing social attachments through imitative play and for gaining an understanding of people. Imitation can also be used to explore and expand the range of possible actions. Finally, imitation can be a mechanism for establishing personal identity and discovering distinctions between self and other. A social robot should selectively use imitation to achieve many of these goals. Faced with an incoming stream of sensory data, the robot must make a number of decisions to determine what actions in the world are appropriate to imitate.
The robot must not only be able to distinguish the class of stimuli (including humans and perhaps other robots) which might be a good model but also determine if the current actions of that agent are worthy of imitation.
The robot must determine which of these objects and events are necessary to the task at hand , which events and actions are important to the instructional process but not to the task itself , and which are inconsequential. The robot must also determine to what extent each action must be imitated. The robot must also recognize the important aspects of the objects being manipulated so that the learned action will be applied to only appropriate objects of the same class.