Thursday, April 19, 2012

When Robots Attack! ECCERobot With Real Muscles And Movement

The Cardboard Robot Rumble seeks to make awareness on these delicate issues Link to Them
Should it be a legitimate worry of ours that robots will eventually be designed with enough artificial intelligence to have rationale thoughts and a conscious? At the rate to which the robotics field is moving, it is truly a potential future. In our blue collar mindset, all these robots will do is to make more folks even lazier. Imagine what will happen when the robots then get lazy? Doomsday?

Can ya just imagine picking up your new robot from Lowes and within hours of getting home, the robot is already on duty fetching beers. Well that is maybe our scenario of how to put them to good use, but will they attack? Yep, that is our main concern. Maybe a kill or trigger switch is put into them, sort of like in Zoolander and they will be at someone's beck and call.

Think we are crazy, watch these videos...

We are not just crazed in our thoughts on this notion as it has been of big concern to many think tanks and well document in pop culture with films such as I Robot and Terminator. Laws are already on the books about preventing such measures, such as what has been reported in the Wall Street Journal alluding to the person who owns the robot becoming responsible for the actions.

Below is quite the interesting article on a particular Robot called ECCERobot built in conjunction with the University of Belgrade. From the photos and quite informative video, leave it up to the imagination, but we know for sure where the future is heading.

Link to original article on

When Robots attack, maybe ECCERobot will side with humans
ECCERobot's detail of the synthetic vertebrae
ECCERobot built in conjunction with University of Belgrade’s ETF robotics department
ECCERobot's detail in the hand with elastic muscles
ECCERobot built in conjunction with University of Belgrade’s ETF robotics department

"Robots being part of our daily lives seems less of a question of “if” than “when.” Yet there’s no consensus on how they’ll look or work. Will they be Asimovian metal bipeds or something we haven’t even imagined?

Researcher Owen Holland from the University of Belgrade’s ETF robotics department has a vision of the robot future that’s equal parts grotesque and convincing. His vision (built by Rob Knight of The Robot Studio), ECCERobot, is a robot built with the body of a human. It has most of our same bones (though fashioned from plastic rather than calcium), and its muscles work much like ours (though they’re driven by kitestring). ECCERobot looks like a human with much of the skin and connective tissue removed, and that’s entirely the point.

“We didn’t want to build a robot that worked perfectly--we wanted a robot that worked exactly like a human being, so it’s more complicated than other robots, and the large number of joints and the elasticity of the muscles and tendons make it much more difficult to control,” Holland tells Co.Design. “We wanted ECCERobot to move exactly like a human being, so that its interactions with the world would be human-like, and so its cognitive abilities would be shaped by the same factors as human cognitive abilities. We also wanted to find out how to control a human-like body--this information would help us to understand how the brain controls our bodies.”

Now ECCERobot isn’t quite a 1:1 humanoid robot. It’s clearly missing articulating legs. And some components were simplified by engineering necessity--we can’t precisely duplicate human wrists and thumbs because no engineer can manufacture their small, strong muscles and tendons yet. All the same, the robot’s body functions a lot like a human, to the point that the discs between segments in its spine gradually compress during the day (just as they do in our own bodies). “We have to lie it down every night to allow the discs to recover their shape, and so the spine goes back to normal,” Holland says.
As silly as a robot that “sleeps” may sound, it’s these very human limitations that make ECCERobot so promising as an android companion.

“This way of building robots doesn’t just produce a robot that moves like a human, but it also produces a robot that is safe for humans to interact with, because the elasticity of the 'muscles’ and 'tendons’ makes it compliant and soft, unlike conventionally engineered robots,” Holland explains. “We believe that this factor alone means that future robots will be more like ECCERobot than the current generation of hard, stiff metallic robots.”

This human “softness” counterintuitively creates a more durable robot, as its body can absorb impacts better than a rigid structure. Iron Man may stop a bullet, but our organic jelly bodies are inherent experts at taking a fall or a punch.
Yet the most interesting aspect of ECCERobot’s design might be the most unanticipated one. This robot was, from the start of the project, built for scientific observation, and its post-autopsical body would seem anything but approachable. But it is. “Lots of people are attracted by the robot, and naturally want to interact with it, even though we have made no attempt to make it cute or cuddly,” says Holland. “We think that people unconsciously recognize that it is somehow very similar to them, and so they feel comfortable with it.”

Personally, I want to get the poor robot a shot of morphine and a decent coat of skin. Then, and only then, will I give it one of my world-renowned hugs (because the poor guy sure looks like it needs one)." - Mark Wilson