Based on human general structure, the humanoid robot is a metal and plastic copy of the human body which is the most advanced system known. We could say that humanoid robots have great potential of becoming the supreme machine, with growing intelligence, expected to surpass human intelligence by 2030, and with already augmented motor capabilities in terms of speed, power and precision. Initially used in research, with the purpose of understanding the human body in detail, and eventually sourcing motion and control solutions already engineered by nature, humanoid robots are becoming increasingly present in our lives. Their operating environments are no longer limited to controlled environments found in laboratories, humanoid robots are now able, to different degrees of course, to tackle a variety of challenges present in the outside world. They are aready employed for entertainment purposes, assisting the elderly or performing surveillance on small kids. In this article we will review humanoid robots for sale on today’s market. Generally the prices are not accessible to everyone, as they start from within the five-figure range.
Why would I buy an advanced humanoid robot?
Tasks and interactions with people that can be accomplished by such machines, have difficulty ratings 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 — it can talk, run, jump, or climb stairs in a very similar way a human does. 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 do not require high intellectual effort.
DARwIn-OP is a humanoid robot designed and produced by RoMeLa (Robotics Mechanisms Laboratory) at Virginia Tech and has a price of around US$ 14,000, or about 10.500 EUR. The robot can be used at home, but the main goal is to be used in education and research due to the 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 1.6 GHz, and for storage it uses 4 GB flash SSD.
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 mode 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 US$ 16,000-18,000 or 12.000-13.600 EUR. 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 Atom with 1.6 GHz which allows for multitasking calculations. New technologies improved and integrated have created a more stable, high accuracy robot. IT can recognize shapes, people or voices. Captured images have the best resolution thanks to the two HD-resolution cameras, which yield 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-R3 reached its third version and is priced at about US$ 43,000 (32.600 EUR). It can communicate with other robots via a local network and is designed to be used in museums or shopping malls. It has a height of 108 cm and weighs 35 Kg. All the 17 DOF of the robot allow for 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 determine the safest route to follow, 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, world’s first robot which can lift up humans in its arms — the project tagline states. Such a robot can be purchased at the price of US$ 77,000 or 59.000 EUR 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 injure 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 US$ 87,000 (66.000 EUR). The robot is designed to be used in museums to guide visitors, education, or research. It is a good public speaker, and impresses 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 change their colors in relation to the robot’s movements. Some of the moves made are created in the 3D animation program 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 175 cm and weight is 33 Kg. The robot’s body is made of aluminum while components are covered with the very common PET plastic material. Instead of electric motors, Robothespian uses muscles driven by air pressure created by Festo. This type of actuators allows for delicate and precise hand movement. Processing is performed by a 1.6 GHz Atom processor and for storage it used a 32 GB card.
Tiro is a humanoid “female” robot that is moving on wheels and has a price of US$ 215,000 or 163,000 EUR . 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 US$ 270,000 (200.000 EUR) 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 9 DOF 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, gyroscopes and accelerometers. 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. This all comes with a price tag of US$ 285,000 or approximately 217.000 EUR. 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 robots with 34 DOF and a price of US$ 300,000 (approximately 222.000 EUR). 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 pretty 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 so it can turn towards the speaker. The brain is an Intel Pentium M processor with a working frequency of 1.6 GHz.
Romeo is a cute-faced character from plastic and metal with a height of 143 cm and a price around US$ 330,000 (250.000 EUR). 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 to 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 from Mekabot, now acquired by Google, is a robotic platform that uses Kinect technology and has a price of US$ 340,000 (251.000 EUR). 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 US$ 400,000 or 304.000 EUR. The new version, for which development started in 2008, comes with 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, it costs no less than US$ 2,500,000 or 1.900.000 EUR. 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 perform amazing maneuvers and it can also run with a speed up to 9 km/h.
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 high prices, however we expect to see many changes on this market in the near future, especially in Japan where demand is very high. Would you acquire a humanoid robot today?