Child-like robots only a few years away

Child-like robots are only a few years away
Child-like robots are only a few years away

The iCub robot, modelled on a human child, made its first appearance in Britain this week - the latest result of cutting edge robotics research funded by the European Commission

iCub is capable of human style eye, head and leg movement as well as basic object recognition and a realistic hand grasping movement.

The mini humanoid robot has been modelled on a three-and-a-half-year-old child and is the result of a five-year £7.5m project is to develop a fully functioning child-like robot.

"Scientists want to give it the ability to crawl on all fours and sit up, to handle objects with precision and to have head and eye movements that echo those of humans," reports PA News.

Open source robotic development

For more details you can head over to the RobotCub website, which details the background to the project and is the "home of the iCub"

"Our main goal is to study cognition through the implementation of a humanoid robot the size of a 3.5 year old child: the iCub," reads the site's blurb.

"This is an open project in many different ways: we distribute the platform openly, we develop software open-source, and we are open to including new partners and form collaboration worldwide.

The iCub made its first trip to the UK this week to attend the University of Manchester at the Symposium on Humanoid Robotics.

iCub crosses academic disciplines

Professor John Gray, visiting professor in the Control Systems Centre at the University of Manchester, noted that it was, "a tremendous coup to have the iCub here in Manchester - this is the first time it has been seen publicly in the UK.

"One of the great things about the iCub is it is an open systems platform. Users and developers in all disciplines, from psychology, through to cognitive neuroscience, to developmental robotics, can use it and customise it freely.

"It is intended to become a research platform of choice, so that people can exploit it quickly and easily, share results, and benefit from the work of other users. This will lead to significantly greater community-wide progress in embodied cognition research."

"It's hoped the iCub will develop its cognitive capabilities in the same way as a child, progressively learning about its own bodily skills, how to interact with the world and eventually how to communicate with other individuals."

via PA News

Head over to BBC Technology for a video demo of this remarkable robot.

Adam Hartley