The United Arab Emirates are equally known for their wealth and frivolous spending habits, with Dubai being home to the world’s tallest building. It seems cutting-edge architecture is but one of their pursuits; with Abu Dhabi bankrolling Barcelona Spain’s PAL Technology Robotics lab to create humanoid robots to compete with those of other nations.
The REEM-A (named after an island off Abu Dhabi’s coast) is an advanced bipedal robot that can recognize people, walk around inside a building autonomously avoiding obstacles, recognize and pick up objects in its hands (eg. moving chess pieces around the board during a match), and has voice recognition/synthesis technology for taking verbal commands and responding.
Looking like a cross between a storm trooper and C3PO, REEM-A was the only humanoid able to walk freely amongst visitors at Wired’s NextFest held in September 2007, and placed second in the penalty kicking contest at RoboCup that year. However, as the first generation prototype it also identified problems which the team has tried to overcome with REEM-B.