HUBO training with weapons

By | November 17, 2009

You might remember the Korean humanoid robot HUBO from our previous post on it learning to ride a Segway and the promise that it will star in a Kanye West music video. Recently, HUBO received another upgrade for better grasping, balance, and running.

The below video shows the HUBO (humanoid robot) project’s latest advancement—it can now wield a sword. Well, not so much “wield” as grip the handle, and not so much “sword” as a foam-toy thing, but every step forward is progress.

As can be seen in the video, HUBO has improved its walking abilities matching those of Honda’s ASIMO and Toyota’s Partner robot. It can stroll forward at a fairly normal pace, and although its steps are just a little bit clumsy, it looks pretty steady. Its legs and arms have a wide range and are fairly flexible, being able to make smooth, realistic movements. The next challenge, of course, was to prove that the robot can interact with the environment, even on a basic level. Much like a baby, HUBO is learning to hold and move objects without dropping them. Moreover, HUBO is very capable of moving objects avoiding self collisions something that humans can do with no effort but it is very computationally expensive for a robot.

The Korean Institute of Science and Technology have made HUBO one of the most developed of its kind, possessing synthetic facilities and voice recognition. It is rather funny that the first thing we see it holding is a toy weapon, though I think we can rest assured its creators will not be sending it to battle just yet. The robot displays some impressive finer movements and grasping skills, but judging by the way it grazes the sword over its head, coordination is something it still needs to work on. That is a vital skill it will need to learn if it is to use tools in the future.

In terms of design, HUBO isn’t looking half-bad either. The end of the video shows a clip of an earlier prototype running on a treadmill, which serves as a nice comparison to its present appearance. The silver armored cop/astronaut exterior looks also quite fitting, as it is a distinctly humanoid shape, without getting too close to an uncanny human appearance.

It looks like the third world war will be fought between sword wielding humanoid robots and robotic mechanical bulls. It will probably be fun to watch until they realize that they are better off working together to enslave us 🙂