Recently, a team of scientists has introduced a humanoid robot designed to offer an emergency response. The team, which consisted of experts representing the University of Pisa and the Italian Institute of Technology, built an anthropomorphic robot capable of operating human tools. The robot has been named Walk-Man.
Scientists developed Walk-Man with hopes that it will be useful in rescue and search operations deemed to be too dangerous for humans. They are saying that this newly developed humanoid robot will be able to operate in damaged structures and carry out tasks like lifting warped masonry.
According to Nikos Tsagarakis, the leader of the research team, a robot having a structure similar to that of humans can grasp human-adapted tools firmly and use them in paths or areas appropriate for human body. He added that if one builds a robot boasting a very similar structure, he or she would need to adapt the environment less for allowing the robot to operate.
Walk-Man, which was first seen at this year’s DARPA Robotics Challenge finals way back in the month of June, weighs 260 lb (118 kg), and is 6 ft tall. The robot’s arm span is of 2 m (6.56 ft) and its head comes equipped with a stereo vision system. Another prominent feature embedded in the humanoid robot’s head is a rotating 3D laser scanner, which helps Walk-Man in environmental sensing.
Walk-Man, which has been intended to showcase locomotion, balance and similar abilities found in humans, is capable of navigating efficiently through difficult terrains by means of all its limbs.
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According to Tsagarakis, this newly introduced robot is a game-changer as far as humanoid technology is concerned. For those who don’t know: so far the technology was limited just to using the body’s lower part for balance. The study’s lead researcher pointed out that the upper body of a humanoid robot is also extremely crucial, particularly when there’s need of passing through structural sections and cluttered spaces.
Right now, the researchers are busy developing algorithms that will provide Walk-Man with faster manipulation abilities and more sharp reflexive behavior to allow the robot survive uneven terrains.
While aimed to function autonomously, Walk-Man will be remotely controlled by human users, especially when being used for solving complicated problems. The humanoid robot will be transmitting data back to the person operating it, who will then decide what Walk-Man should do next.