Working in collaboration with the American-based Hanson Robotics (known for creating realistic, articulated animatronic human heads) KAIST took an unexpected turn towards the bizarre with their next humanoid, Albert HUBO. This robot would combine two robotic systems; an android style head (in the likeness of Albert Einstein) and a bipedal robotic body.
Although the entertainment industry has been pushing the field of realistic animatronics for years, the problems have largely remained the same: costliness, low expressive capability, and high power consumption. Hanson Robotics has developed Frubber (a contraction of flesh and rubber) which can wrinkle, stretch, and amass much more realistically than typical animatronics materials. Being porous, Frubber weighs less and requires minimal power to move (roughly 1/22nd the amount required of standard latex).
Behind the friendly and famous mask is the ability to see via cameras, hear with microphones, speak via speakers and voice synthesis, and emote via facial expressions, which allows for more natural human-robot interaction. As a result of the animatronic head, which has 28 servo motors to control its facial expressions, Albert HUBO has an amazing 66 degrees of freedom in total, and an upgraded battery to help power both the head and the body.
The body is basically a modified version of KAIST’s previous humanoid, HUBO, standing 137cm (4’6″) tall and weighing 57kg (125 lbs). One of the primary hurdles for the development of the robotic body was to marry it to the human-like head without it looking too strange. Unlike other androids which have more human-like bodies, the designers decided to model it after a spacesuit, which they felt gave it a scientific look which worked well with Albert Einstein’s persona. How successful they were I’ll leave up to you.
- KAIST (official site KR/EN)
- KAIST’s HUBO Lab (official site KR/EN)
- Hanson Robotics (official site EN)
Video (Discovery Channel):
Video (Albert HUBO on ABC News):
Video (Science World, Korean television):
Video (Meeting President Bush at APEC 2005):
KAIST HUBO Lab