Scientists have revealed an ambitious plan to create a humanoid helper robot with artificial muscles – in just nine months.
Engineers at the University of Zurich’s Artificial Intelligence Lab hope that Roboy, designed to look like a child, will eventually help the sick and elderly by acting as a mechanical helper.
To help the robot move, the team are developing radical artificial ‘tendons.
The team has already signed up 15 project partners and over 40 engineers, and hope to fund the project using a combination of commercial partners and crowdfunding.
‘Financing the project through sponsorship and crowd funding enables us to implement an extremely ambitious project in an academic environment”, said Professor Rolf Pfeifer, wh is leading the project.
The team hope Roboy will become a blueprint for ‘service robots’ that work alongside humans.
‘Service robots are machines that are, to a certain extent, able to execute services independently
for the convenience of human beings,’ the researchers say.
‘Since they share their ‘living space’ with people, userfriendliness and safety are of great importance’.
The project will use artificial tendons.
‘Thanks to his construction as a tendon-driven robot modelled on human beings (‘normal’ robots have their motors in their joints), Roboy moves almost as elegantly as a human,’ the team claim.
‘Our aging population is making it necessary to keep older people as autonomous as possible for as long as possible, which means caring for aged people is likely to be an important area for the deployment of service robots.
‘We can very safely assume that service robots will become part of our environment in the future, as is already the case today for technologies such as smartphones and laptops.’
Work has also begun on Roboy’s hands, which will be covered with a soft ‘skin’ to make it comfortable to the touch
‘Creating humanoid robots presents researchers with great challenges,’ the researchers say.
‘Elements such as quick, smooth movements or robust, flexible yet soft skin are difficult to recreate.
‘Fundamental new findings are needed for this purpose.
It is precisely through projects like Roboy that innovation is possible.’
Roby is expected to be ‘born’ in March 2013, when it will be unveiled at the Robots on Tour event in Zurich.
The lab is seeking donations to fund the work,and is offering to put a logo on the machine for £34,000 ($55,000).