Based on human structure, the humanoid robot is a metal and plastic copy of the most advanced system known – the human body. We could say that humanoid robots are becoming the supreme machine, with a growing intelligence and which are expected to surpass human intelligence by 2030. Initially used in research to understand in detail the functioning of human body applied to intelligent machines, in this article I make a list with humanoid robots available for purchase. Generally the prices are not accessible to everyone, they start from within the five-figure range.
Why would I buy an advanced humanoid robot?
The tasks and interactions with people that can be made by such machines have a difficulty rated between medium and low. The human body is the subject of study for researchers and engineers that develop technologies in the robotics field. An advanced humanoid robot has human-like behavior: can talk, can run, jump, or climb stairs as well as a human. It can also recognize objects, people, can talk and can maintain a conversation. In general, an advanced humanoid robot can do various activities that for a human are daily routines and don’t involve a high intellectual effort.
DARwIn-OP is a humanoid robot designed and produced by Romel at Virginia tech and has a price around 10,525 EUR ($14,169). The robot can be used at home, but the main goal is to be used in education and research due to open-source advantage that underlies it. The developers encourage users to develop and integrate new components to improve the structure and functionality.
The brain of the robot is an Intel Atom Z530 processor with a work frequency of 1.6GHz, and for storage it used 4GB flash SSD card.
DARwIn-OP has a height of 45.45 cm, weighs 2.9 Kg and has a top speed of 24 cm/s. The autonomy of the robot is 30 minutes and to save energy, it can enter in stand-by only when has nothing to do.
02. NAO Next Gen
Released in an updated version in 2011, NAO Next Gen can be purchased at a price between 12,000 EUR and 13,600 EUR ($16,000 – $18,000). Like DARwIn-OP, NAO is an open platform for all those who want to make improvements or to learn how an advanced robot works in technological terms. It can also be used in education and research as study material or platform for developing new generation of humanoid robots.
NAO comes with a powerful brain, the Intel AtomTM with 1.6 GHz which allows multitasking calculations. New technologies improved and integrated have created a more stable robot and with a high accuracy. Can recognize shapes, people or voices. Captured images have the best resolution due to the two HD cameras with a good performance even in low light conditions.
To understand what the user is trying to transmit through words, Aldebaran has created a technology called Nuance that translates sounds in robot commands.
Robovie-R reached the third version and is priced at about 32,600 EUR ($43,000). It can communicate with other robots via a local network and is designed to be used in museums or in malls. It has a height of 108 cm and weighs 35 Kg. All the 17 DOF of the robot allow for a high mobility, interaction with users, and understanding the environment. Due to the high flow of people that can move simultaneously in a small place, the mission of Robovie-R becomes difficult but not impossible. To browse the safe route determined, a laser range finder sensor was integrated. The robot is sensible to touch thanks to the 11 tactile sensors integrated into the robot structure.
RIBA-II is a project from Japan designed to assist persons with disabilities or elderly who need help to move. Such a robot can be purchased at the price of 59,000 EUR ($77,000) and can work continuously for two hours at home or in a hospital. It has a height of 137 cm and a huge weight of 230 Kg. To move or help the patient with the two strong arms, RIBA can bend and lift a maximum weight of 80 Kg. The arms are covered with a soft material to not create injuries to the patient during movement. It is an intelligent robot that can see through its two cameras mounted in the head, also can hear and respond to commands.
Robothespian is in continuous development since 2005 and can be bought at a price of approximately 66,300 EUR ($87,200). The robot is designed to be used in museums to guide visitors, education, or research. It is a good public speaker, impressed by gesturing and emotions displayed on its face. Also it has the ability to dance, sing, or recite text. The two eyes are made up of LCD screens and changes the colors in relation to its movements. Some of the moves made are created in the 3D animation program called Blender.
The robot can be controlled remotely via the Internet and the user can see what the robot sees at all times. The height is 1.75 cm and weight 33 Kg. The robot body is made of aluminum and components are covered with polyethylene terephthalate.
Instead of electric motors, Robothespian uses muscles driven by air pressure. This type of actuators allow delicate and precise hand movement. The commands are given by 1.6 GHz Atom processor and for storage it used a 32 GB card.
Tiro is a humanoid female that is moving on wheels and has a price of 163,000 EUR ($215,000). Facial mimicry is provided by an LCD screen which displays different shapes and colors depending on the emotions. It has a height of 60 cm and weighs 70 Kg. Audio and video sensors are integrated in the neck and can capture a wide range of sounds and images in various angles.
iCub is actually a spoiled child with a price of 200,000 EUR (~$270,000) which aims at socialization applications. It has a height of 100 cm, weighs 23 Kg, and is able to recognize and manipulate objects. Each hand has 9DOF and can feel objects almost as good as a human.
The head is an essential component for moving, recognition and commands. It has 6 DOF and has integrated two cameras, two microphones, gyros and accelerometers. Since I mentioned the head, its brain is controlled by an Intel Core2Duo 2.16 Mhz processor.
08. PR2 SE
Willow Garage produces one of the most advanced humanoid robot platforms which can be used both for educational purposes and research. The price is as its performance – 217,000 EUR ($285,000). It is an open source platform which gathered a community around it in order to develop new technology and improve existing technologies.
This robotic platform is available in two versions, with one or two arms. Kinect technology is used to control or detect objects.
HRP-4 is one of the most advanced humanoid robot with 34 DOF and a price of 222,728 EUR ($300,000). It has a height of 1.51 meters and weighs 39 Kg. Each robot arm has 7 degrees of freedom and can lift a maximum weight of 0.5 Kg. The intelligence level is high, the robot can talk, understand, recognize or manipulate various objects. Due to the wide range of integrated sensors, HRP-4 can detect the direction of the sound to return to the speaker. The brain is an Intel Pentium M processor with a working frequency of 1.6 GHz.
Romeo is a sympathetic character from plastic and metal with a height of 143 cm and a price around 250,000 EUR (~$330.000). The idea of developing a robot to help people with disabilities or health problems is not new, but Romeo is one of the best robots built for these tasks. Besides the care shown by people, it can be a real family member. It can have a discussion, can work in the kitchen, or empty the garbage.
Interaction between people and Romeo is done in a natural way using words or gestures. Even if has four fingers on one hand, the robot can grasp objects, manipulate and feel objects of whatever form. Its degrees of freedom add to a total number of 37.
11. Meka M1 Mobile Manipulator
Meka M1 is a robotic platform that uses Kinect technology and has a price of 251.000 EUR (~$340,000). It can be used at home or for educational and research purposes. The five fingers of the hand are every mobile and sensitive, and have specifications similar to human hands.
HUBO-2 is a robot with a height of 130 cm, weighs 45 Kg and has a price of 304,000 EUR ($400,000). The new version that has begun to be developed since 2008 comes with a low power consumption, greater flexibility, a lightweight body, and high intelligence. The total number of degrees of freedom is 40 and allows a high flexibility of the head, arms and legs. It can dance, walk and grab objects as well as a human. It can walk at a speed of 1.4 Km/h and run with 3.3 Km/h.
ASIMO is the most advanced humanoid robot which can be bought, but also the most expensive – 1,900,000 EUR ($2,500,000). The latest version appeared in 2011 and brings significant improvements in autonomy, new balancing capability, new recognition system and other technological improvements.
ASIMO can move in crowded places such as shopping malls, station or museums. It has the ability to adapt to the environment, can walk on any terrain, can climb or descend stairs almost as good as a human. It has a height of 130 cm and weighs 48 Kg. The 57 DOF enable the machinery to run with 9 Km/h.
The robots are no longer used just in industrial environments, factories, warehouses and laboratories. They become part of the society we live in, part of our lives. The passage of time will bring lower costs and new technologies which will narrow the intelligence gap between robots and humans and will enable their widespread purchase. For the moment, advanced humanoid robots are found in limited numbers on the market due to low demand and the high prices.