Humanoid robots are positioned by their developers as devices that in the future will coexist with people, helping them in everyday life, and replacing human specialists in dangerous conditions. Some of them are human-sized robots such as Boston Dynamics’ Atlas and Digit from Agility Robotics, while some are small ones like Pepper robot.
Now, a Chinese AI and humanoid robotics company, UBTECH Robotics, has unveiled Walker X, the latest version of its groundbreaking bipedal humanoid robot, at the 2021 World Artificial Intelligence Conference held in Shanghai. The robot can interact with people, pick up objects, and avoid obstacles lively and flexibly. It is lighter and more energy-efficient than the previous generation robot.
The Walker X robot is designed like the human body, with arms, legs, and a head driven by 41 high-torque servo motor joints. The robot has hands complete with fingers that allow it to perform tasks using fine motor skills. It can grab objects, squeeze them, and even perform actions that are quite difficult for robots, for example, open the bottle cap. The robot can hold 3 kg of payload per hand.
Walker X is able to autonomously navigate in familiar and new places, using the standard algorithm for this task of simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). When moving, the robot uses depth cameras to avoid collisions with people and objects. The human-like giat travels at a maximum speed of 3 km/h (1.8 mph). It can also adapt to multiple types of terrains, such as grass, carpet, tile, and more.
In addition, engineers have made it extremely stable by equipping it with a dynamic balancing system so that even hitting with a ball cannot bring it down. The company also showed how the robot balances and keeps itself on its feet when pushed. The height and weight of the device are unknown.
The robot can communicate with humans in two ways. First, it has speech recognition and voice synthesis system. And secondly, a large screen is installed in the head at eye level, imitating the facial expressions of the eyes – in total, the robot will be able to express 28 types of emotions. Also, in case there are light indicators that are activated during certain interactions.
The developers have demonstrated several features of the Walker X in the video. For example, it is able to climb stairs and inclines, and it knows how to adjust if the angle of inclination changes in real-time.
With significant improvement in physical performance, autonomous intelligence, and human to robot interactions, Walker X took another step closer to becoming the gold standard in humanoid robotics.