Hitoshi Arisumi gave a presentation at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems last month titled “Whole-Body Motion of a Humanoid Robot for Passing Through a Door”. The act of opening and passing through a heavy swinging door isn’t so easy for a humanoid robot on legs. While a robot like Willow Garage’s PR2 can easily roll right through a door while pushing it open with its arm, a bipedal robot like AIST’s HRP-2 Promet has to push the door open with its whole upper body, and keep the door open using just the right amount of force as it passes through. Despite the door weighing 80% of the HRP-2 Promet’s mass (46.4kg or about 102 lbs), Arisumi-san and his cohorts at AIST were able to perfect the control necessary to accomplish the task.
And if going through a swinging door wasn’t difficult enough for you, how about getting inside a car? It’s tasks like these that are second nature for human beings but take an enormous amount of time and effort to plan for a robot. It really makes me wonder if robots can ever be practical until we manage to develop some sort of soft “skin” for robots, saturated with nano-scale tactile sensors for environmental feedback.
[source: IEEE Spectrum]