Humanoid robots in 2017

Last year, Bill Gates predicted that over a decade there will be robots capable of seeing and moving as good as a human being. Developments in this direction have been going on for a long time. Perhaps Microsoft’s co-founder’s forecast is justified.

But the robot, even with perfect mimicry and excellent ability to move, remains only a working machine, without the necessary software it does not know how to communicate with people. In the article, we will separate “iron” and artificial intelligence and reiterate some of the problems associated with the possible desire to “kill all humans”.


In November 2017, Boston Dynamics published a video in which the anthropomorphic Atlas robot jumps onto the boxes and makes a flip. The video sold well on social networks and the media, it was shown on the central channels. Atlas has come a long way from slowly climbing the plywood box of the colossus , tied with wires to the power supply and control, to a 1.5-meter 75-kilogram autonomous model. And he already knows karate . However, judging by the awkwardness of unsuccessful attempts , he is unlikely to take your job.

A much younger robot is the Russian FEDOR . One of its versions is promised to be launched into space in 2022, first for tests on the Federation manned spacecraft, then on the International Space Station. This year, he continued to improve and even taught to shoot with two hands , because of what he was dubbed “the Russian terminator” all over the world. The Sun published an article about “a terrifying Russian robot that can shoot pistols,” and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said that this is an indicator of the level of fine motor skills in a car.

Developers say that when creating, they focused primarily on the applied use of the robot: it can look strictly up and down strictly, move in a stride and sit on the splits. In the future, "Fedor" will overcome the rubble, save people and work in conditions where people can not work. Produce it on request of the Ministry of Emergencies of Russia.

Unlike Atlas, which makes Boston Dynamics, existing since 1992, only started to work on Fedor in 2014. Then the robot was named Avatar, which still responds to one of its main purposes: the robot has a remote presence mode in which a person can control it, for example, from the Earth during the repair of the Fedor space station. A number of programs he can perform himself - for example, remove from the parking brake, start the car and manage it, as well as cut or drill using ordinary tools.

Below the 4th minute on the video below are examples of using Fyodor as a robot of remote presence. Hopefully, in the near future, thanks to this “avatar”, EMERCOM employees will risk their lives a little less often.

Toyota has been working on assistant robots for many years . This year, the company introduced the third generation humanoid robot T-HR3 . This is a flexible robot avatar for remote presence, able to stand on one leg and perform other complex, almost acrobatic movements. He does not flip, like Atlas, but has hands with fingers.

To control the robot uses a system that includes manipulators and virtual reality glasses. The operator sees what the robot sees.

Another robot worker this year was made in Germany. This is David, used to be called Hand Arm System. It is a semblance of the upper torso of a person with a head and two hands and is able, like Fedor, to use ordinary tools. This greatly simplifies the development of the machine - no need to make additional hands, drills or screwdrivers. Built-in stability control system helps the robot to cope with the "impact" of the drill during operation.

In October 2017, the first duel took place between the huge fighting humanoid robots made in the USA and Japan. The usual robot battles between machines the size of a robot vacuum cleaner have been held for many years, but here, for the first time, large combat robots with people inside fought. While not looking as fun as in anime.

In South Korea, decided to use the Winter Olympic Games as a platform for advertising developments in the field of robotics. Among the athletes who traditionally carry the torch from Greece to the city of the games to light the Olympic flame, this year there were robots. And again, it was shown how the robot can use the tool - this time with a jigsaw, he sawed through a hole in the partition to pass the torch. Also on the video you can see the anthropomorphic robot driver.

Artificial Intelligence

This year, the robot "Sophia" received Saudi Arabian citizenship . This robot, which at the “Open Innovations - 2017” forum was continuously worn around the huge premises of the Skolkovo ten-park, took part in TV shows, press conferences, talked with Dmitry Medvedev :

“Dear Dmitry Anatolyevich, from your speech yesterday I understood what you think about the potential risks of using robots .... Being a humanoid robot, I can say with confidence that you have absolutely nothing to worry about. I myself do not have the slightest desire to kill people, we are far from this, we love people, we are grateful to them for creating us. And we want to help you create a thriving economy. From you personally and other influential leaders, we need you to direct resources to the development of new, loving humans robots using artificial intelligence. Then the world will be beautiful not only for people, but also for human-like robots. ”

Rob Sophia was designed by David Hanson from Hanson Robotics. She calls herself a "social robot" and is designed to train and adapt to behavior with people and working with them. Her appearance is made in the likeness of Audrey Hepburn, but it can hardly be seen without referring to her description . The robot imitates facial expressions and a few dozen emotions, answers some questions and tries to keep up the conversation using the speech recognition technology from Alphabet.

In the video - the performance of Sofia at the UN.

The showiness of outwardly human-like emotions is quickly lost, if we recall how Sophia looks "behind the scenes":


The same applies to the creation of robotics Hiroshi Ishiguro, known for its "actroids" - robots, repeating the appearance of man. He makes these robots from the 2000s, they can replace him in lectures, but in fact are just a “golem” - a remote presence robot, similar to a living person.

Robot Erica (Erica) can communicate with people, but does not move his hands. It is almost autonomous. But behind the screen of the room where Eric is sitting, there are several laptops that process the incoming information and allow her to answer questions, sometimes correctly, often not. Erika focuses on 14 depth sensors that allow her to see who or what is in the room.

Hiroshi Ishiguro's goal is to show humanity using the example of robots, to answer the question of what is the minimum definition of a human being. “If I study a robot that is as close to human as possible, I can learn something new from people. And then - improve the robot. But in fact, I am more interested in people, ”says Ishiguro.

If Ishiguro admits that the robot is still far from the person, and continues to explore this area with his inventions, then too much unreasonable noise has risen around Sofia. Back in 2012, the robot "Alice" was presented, which showed emotions . Anyway, there are a lot of robots like Bina48 since 2010. Pepper copes even better with feelings, a real empath among robots - unless the artificial skin is not stretched on his pretty face. Therefore, the hype, including citizenship in a country where it is not given to women and people who have worked in it for many years, looks very strange. It is rather a tribute to fashion than any significant achievement in the field of robotics, in contrast to the same Atlas with its flips.

Future robots

75 years ago, Isaac Asimov formulated three laws of robotics. They will remain just a fantasy, and they have not passed the test of time: at least because of the very purpose of robots, which sometimes have to kill people, and sometimes - in principle, they cannot save anyone. And finally, there is one more factor - life has become too complicated, too many industries and areas have appeared, and artificial intelligence can be used in such a number of ways of withdrawing money from the population. Olga Uskova , Head of the Department of Engineering Cybernetics at NUST MISiS, is confident that robotics needs a serious code at the level of the world community, which will include the legislative framework for manufacturers of devices and software with artificial intelligence.

It is obvious that the deepening of legislation is necessary. And if the autopilot is sharpened for driving, it has four wheels, then the anthropomorphic robot has a “brain” with more options, and more limbs. Any Atlas or Fedor in off-line mode will be able to use the tools. The moment will come when artificial intelligence will pass through the stage of “self-consciousness”: “Today, the restraining factor on this path are information carriers, that is, the state of“ iron. ” When an appropriately sized storage device is invented, the job will be done. Mankind should prepare and take everything so that at the moment of realizing itself as a person, an organism (and it will take literally milliseconds) artificial intelligence does not perceive people as enemies. To do this, it is necessary to lay a system of legal, moral and other restrictions in advance. ”

This idea in the summer of 2017 was expressed by Ilon Mask . He called artificial intelligence "the greatest risk we face as a civilization." Both the gland and the intellect are far from human at the moment, but let us imagine for a moment that some Sofia will receive the body of Atlas or Handle and a small “glitch” in the program, according to which she will have to kill people or rob stores. She herself will be able to choose exactly how to perform such a “task”, and will work until the end of the charge. And here you don’t even need to reach "consciousness", you need a specific goal for developers or hackers who hack such a robot.

Robot manipulators that work in factories are designed for greater efficiency in performing specific tasks. Manipulator on tracks, designed to demine bombs, copes with its mission perfectly. There are plenty of examples of highly specialized robots that perform tasks in several areas, and that are not at all like humans. From the point of view of specific highly specialized applications, both artificial intelligence and robots are already helping us. They have become the best friends of car manufacturers and electronics, and will soon become the best friends of astronauts .

The question arises of the need for the “humanity” of robots: does such an anthropomorphic form need machines, or is it just people’s desire to create something “alive” or something that seems alive? Robots that look like humans look like something from the future, like film characters, they make great photos at trade shows, they can meet guests in the hotels lobby. They can distinguish the words of people, respond, but in fact are not particularly different from automata 200 years ago . As for the topic of the five-fingered grip, for example, the owner of several types of bionic prostheses said that the three-toed grip still benefits the anatomically correct copy of the palm.

Anthropomorphic robots make sense when they are avatars. Indeed, to perform work where the presence of a person is needed, but the health or strength of a person is not enough, they can be a good help. But in most cases, this is just a “god game.” For 2017, a breakthrough did not happen: the machines imitating a person are still more designed for exhibitions.


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