The Robotics technology has become highly advanced to such a level that even people who have routine jobs [in industries] are replaced by robots. Though the initial cost of such robots may be high, the overall gain will be huge when compared to manual labour. To us, robots are just machines with two arms and two legs which are connected together by nuts and bolts.
Just when we were thinking that the robots were restricted to a routine job, came the invention of a new class which could even respond mentally. Today, we are going to discuss about such a class, usually referred to as Anthropomimetic Machines.
What is an Anthropomimetic Machine?
An anthropomimetic robot is a machine that can exhibit almost all kinds of human behaviour. By human behaviour, we do not mean only the external behaviour, but also internal. That is, the robot can react and act accordingly to different stimuli like human beings. Thus, this technology is sure to reduce the gap between humans and robots.
Working of Anthropomimetic Machines
- External Behaviour
For a robot to have an efficient movement and flexibility, it is necessary that the make of it should be of high standards. Thus, an Anthropomimetic Machine is made up of a material called thermoplastic polymer as it is the best material for making artificial skeletons. This material is special as it turns to liquid in a hot state and will return to a glassy state when it is cooled. Such a material is used as they mould into a desired shape after they melt and later freeze. With this method, the robot can easily attain all the degrees of freedom [DOF] easily.
The human body has tendons which are used to connect between the bones and the muscles. In a similar fashion the thermoplastic polymer acts as the robot’s tendons and corresponds to the muscles and kitelines of the robot’s body. Thus, the thermoplastic polymer can be defined as an actuator which helps in attaining all the degrees of freedom [DOF] for the robot.
The above explanation clearly defines the external appearance and movement of the robot. Now, let us discuss the internal characteristics.
- Internal Characteristics
By internal behaviour, we mean that the robot will be able to respond to different stimuli like a human being. This can be done only by creating some basic cognitive characteristics.
For instance, if the robot has stepped on something that is not stable for it, the robot has to do the necessary corrections. This can be done only with the help of some rudimentary sensory-motor controls. Through this control, the motor will start developing ways to develop some form of intelligence. The memory will be developed in its course that after a while when the robot faces a similar obstacle, it will remember the previous incident and do the necessary steps for its survival.
CRONOS is an advanced version of an anthropomimetic machine which was developed to create an illusion of interacting with humans. It was developed by Rob Knight and Owen Holland for the Machine Consciousness Lab run by the universities of Bristol and Sussex. For the full scale version of this robot, the anthropomimetic machine had to be upgraded with many computers and other sensors.
The researchers at the Essex Campus of Bristol University explained that CRONOS was a prototype actually used for the design study used for investigating materials, actuators, joints, and morphology. After developing the prototype successfully, they built a second version with a much more stable skeletal structure ad high power motors, called CRONOS 2. This robot can not only imitate the motions and stimulations of a human but can also imitate the actual external appearance of a human.
The structure of such a system is perfect that it can easily attain 42 degrees of freedom [DOF] with the help of elastically driven actuators.
CRONOS was made from nothing else but common elements like nuts, bolts, screws, actuators and so on. But CRONOS 2 was a little more advanced as the skeletal structure had to be made stronger. Thus, they made it out of thermoplastic polymorph, tendons of kiteline and so on. The muscles were designed and powered with the help of actuated screwdriver motors. The flexible joints of the muscle and bones were made out of bungee cord. These changes from the prototype to CRONOS 2 made it more identical to an actual human being, when referred to the shape and size.
Future of Anthropomimetic Robots
All these efforts were done to somehow integrating robots into human society. Anthropomimetic Robots and its versions may have succeeded in imitating and responding to human beings with the help of multiple computers and other devices. But, with major funding and research, this idea can be taken to the next level, where all the works that a human does can be done by a robot as well.
When a certain technology is innovated, they will be used for only two basic purposes. They are – good or evil. The good thing about such machines is that they can be replaced for existing technologies like ATM’s, advanced computing processes, and so on. They can also be used for bomb removal purposes. But, the bad thing is that they can replace human jobs like library assistants, grocery checkout clerks and so on. Though the researchers developed such a robot to integrate with a society, only time can tell how bad the technology can get.
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I thought the article was interesting. I am now sitting in Starbucks and was thinking how full it would be if all the robots working – sorry I mean human beings working – were on the other side of the counter. I think we have to keep the humans working. A full Starbucks would be no good as there would be no seats.
I still think there is a possible place for robots. I need someone to pass the remote control…