Humanoid Robots: Machines Moving Towards Humanity

By: Ujwala Sanjay Jadhav from Government Polytechnic, Sadar, Nagpur.


Sensing plays an important role in robotic paradigms. A wireless communication link allows the robot to send sensor data to the operator and the operator to send commands to the robot when the signal is strong. Operator control unit allow operator to see view from robot sensors and issue commands. Sensor is a device that measures some physical attribute of the world. Proprioceptive sensors sense the position, speed of the humanoids body and joints. Humanoid robots use accelerometers to measure acceleration from which velocity can be calculated. To maintain dynamic balance during walking, a robot needs information about contact force and its current and desired motion. Force sensors placed in robot’s hands and feet to measure contact force with environment position sensors, that indicate actual position the robot.

Opening the humanoid

LIDAR is a sensing technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser and analysing the reflected light. Hydraulic actuators power the limbs. Hands of three types allow Atlas to pick up and manipulate a variety of items. 30 joints feature closed loop position and force control. Wireless-e-stop allows for safe operation of the robot by enabling the operator to shut it down with the press of a button. Ankles have two degrees of freedom, allowing the feet to move up and down and side to side.

Wireless Antennas enable transmission of sensor data and commands between the robot and operator. Protective cage shields fragile sensors from damage due to falls and environmental hazards. Stereo cameras have two or more lenses which enable binocular depth perception.

An on board battery powers the robot for a limited time. Low-set-arms provide a wide range of motion. Modular wrists allow attaching different hands or tools and an added degree of freedom allows for wrist rotation.

The robot was redesigned, with the goal of improving power efficiency to better support battery operation. Atlas can now jump across the gaps, jump and spin 180 degree and most impressive part is it can backflip, even using `its arms to balance after landing just like a real gymnast. Atlas robot designed to operate on rough terrain. The controller uses inertial, kinematic and load data from sensors.

Sensors and camera construct high-resolution 3-D maps for navigation near Atlas robot’s head. Port of power and communication tether which will eventually be replaced by an on-board power source.

Wrists of Atlas robot is designed to operate with hands made by another manufacturer.

Size Interface Required Power
Weight:180 lbs( 82kg) C++ and ROS APls 480V 3-phase at 15Kw
Height: 5’9”(1.75m) 10 Gbps Fiber OPTIC Ethernet
Chest Depth: 22” (0.56m)
Shoulder Width: 30” (0.76m)

So, why is Atlas different?

The first generation could navigate indoors and outdoors, but the new one is much more athletic. Atlas can now balance while performing tasks allowing it to work in a large volume while occupying a smaller footprint. Atlas is unlike other bipedal robots which seem clumsy and unable to even walk. Humanoids aren’t supposed to be able to do this, it’s extremely difficult to make a bipedal robot that can move effectively, Atlas have to balance a bulky upper body on just two legs. Other bipeds like a Cassie robot which walks more like a bird than human, so there may be situations where you want to deploy a robot that works like a human. Atlas has capabilities to walk like human. Atlas uses balance and whole-body skills to achieve two handed mobile manipulation. Atlas keeps its balance when pushed and can get up if it tips over. There are many robots like Wildcat robot uses a galloping gait much like a dog or horse and leans into turns to maintain traction and balance. Bigdog robot has four legs designed like an animal with complaint element to absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. Spotmini is another robot with four legs.

A new version of Atlas, designed to operate outdoors and inside buildings. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It uses sensors in its body and legs to balance and LIDAR and stereo sensors in its head to avoid obstacles, assess the terrain, help with navigation and manipulate objects, even when the objects are being moved. Atlas height is 5’9” (1.75m) and weight is 180lbs(82kg), the new Atlas is much shorter and lighter than the previous model, which was 6’2” (1.9m) and 345lbs (156kg). Weight of Atlas is more than other humanoid robot like Asimo, Poppy, Romeo.

Task the robot must complete

  • Drive utility vehicle.
  • Travel dismounted through various terrains.
  • Remove debris blocking doorway.
  • Open doors, enter building.
  • Climb ship’s ladder/stairs.
  • Break through wall.
  • Locate and close valve.
  • Connect firehose.

Can the future breath safe?

The goal is to create robots that can respond to dangerous emergencies. Future of this robot is for it to do anything that a human can’t, and to keep humans safe. The future of Atlas robot is about saving human lives. It could drive vehicle, open doors, explore where human could not and turn valves. Hospital usage involves heavy lifting, precision required actions, dealing with patients infected with deadly diseases. Sending Atlas into a collapsing

building to search for survivors after a terrorist attack instead of risking human lives. Having Atlas work on containing disasters dealing with infrastructure such as problems with a nuclear power plant instead of risking human lives with radiation.



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