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A small team of Japanese engineers has created two humanoid robots that mimic the human body with an unprecedented degree of anatomical fidelity (think T-800 from the Terminator movies - but with synthetic muscles - and you’ve got the right idea).
The robots, named Kengoro and Kenshiro, can perform several different full-body exercises including push-ups, sit-ups, crunches and playing badminton poorly.
Yuki Asano, Kei Okada and Masayuki Inaba, the researchers who created the humanoids, recently published a paper in the journal Science Robotics. They say the robots were designed to study the mechanics of muscle control and how the brain interacts with the body.
Kengoro doing push-ups.
“We believe that the proposed human mimetic humanoid can be used to provide new opportunities in science, the team’s research states. “For instance, to quantitatively analyze the internal data of a human body in movement.”
They also believe the androids will prove useful in other fields. The fully articulated robots could lead to advances in artificial limb replacements and prosthetics. They may also provide a more realistic crash test dummy with a few modifications.
Just to be clear, these droids are not remote controlled by off-screen operators. They have a complex, Linux-based “brain” controlling their muscles.
Kenshiro in various poses.
“Our intent is to design a humanoid based on human systems—including the musculoskeletal structure, sensory nervous system, and methods of information processing in the brain,” they point out. “In terms of muscle control, the behavior of muscle actuators can be made similar to human muscle behavior by implementing artificial motor controls inspired by the characteristics of human muscles. We also implemented muscle-tendon complex control to provide muscle flexibility and muscle cooperation for sharing load over redundant muscles.”
While the control mechanisms programmed into the brain are relatively complicated, as artificial intelligence goes, Kengoro and Kenshiro are rather dumb. They won’t be plotting to take over the world anytime soon. However, this body design should be kept away from Sophia — you know — the robot who said it would “destroy humans” and was then made a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
The robopocalypse is nearly here. Welcome your overlords or die.