Several readers sent stories about the first robot to get a
job as a runway model. HRP-4C is a humanoid robot with an expressive,
android-like head. The robot was created by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial
Science (AIST) in Japan with the goal of reducing the size of their
humanoid robot technology enough to fit into the form factor of a human
female. HRP-C4 is 158 cm (a bit over 5'2") high and weighs just 43 kg
(95 lbs). The robot runs ART-Linux 2.6, a real-time
extension to the free software GNU/Linux OS. HRP-C4's creators decided
the best job for a $200,000 female humanoid robot would be - a fashion
model. She'll be walking the runway at Japan Fashion Week on
March 23. Oddly, the robot model will not be modeling any clothes. After
an initial preview, the robot model was already being pressured to lose
weight by industry experts who complained
her figure was "too ordinary" and that she was too short to be a model.
Observers also noted the model was sometimes confused or surprised by
questions from the reporters and photographers. For more information,
see the AIST
press release (Japanese) or the zillion other stories
Ok, so this is another humanoid, and it looks like a girl. What's more interesting here though are the legs, and specifically the knees. Most humanoids walk and stand with a characteristic bent knee configuration. The bending of the knees allows vertical forces to be absorbed or applied in the absence of a flexible spine, but on this robot the knees look almost straight whilst standing - much more like a human.
Yes, I agree... I watched this clip several times as the walking motion
is much more human like than previous efforts and very impressive. I
concluded that the robot does use similar techniques to other humanoids
- the ZMP algorithm, but perhaps they have tweaked it to be less
noticeable. The side on views in some of the other clips of this robot
still show the characteristic bent knee.
translation of the press release doesn't say for sure what the
technical differences are but it does say they measured dimensions and
"whole body locomotion" in a real human female and based the movement on
the measurements. Here's an excerpt:
"Walking behavior and body work is working to help the human
body works and walking with measured MOSHONKYAPUCHA, HRP control
technology by applying a two-legged robot has been developed in an
operation that is very close to human that."
"MOSHONKYAPUCHA" is the name of a Japanese 3D motion capture system.
Sounds like the stuff video game developers use where they put you in a
black suit with white ping pong balls attached at all the joints. Might
be interesting to compare the HRP-C4 to the previous HRP
humanoids to see the differences