A University of Texas team has created technology that will enable people to use “any device with a web browser to access and control a humanoid robot.” The team includes leading American robotics experts ChienLiang Fok, Fei Sun, Matt Mangum, Al Mok, Binghan He, and Luis Sentis.
Think C3PO or R2D2 working next to you at home or in the office. And not just one or two of them, but many.
The team’s report “Webbased Teleoperation of a Humanoid Robot” states:
“Whereas traditional industrial robots are physically dangerous to be around, humanoid robots are meant to operate in our environments with safety guarantees. The ability to work alongside humans in our homes and workplaces significantly increases the range of applications of humanoid robots.”
The report’s introduction defines its humanoid robot technology as:
The Cloudbased Advanced Robotics Laboratory (CARL) integrates a whole body controller and webbased teleoperation to enable any device with a web browser to access and control a humanoid robot. By integrating humanoid robots with the cloud, they are accessible from any Internetconnected device. Increased accessibility is important because few people have access to stateoftheart humanoid robots limiting their rate of development. CARL’s implementation is based on modern software libraries, frameworks, and middleware including Node.js, Socket.IO, ZMQ, ROS, Robot Web Tools, and ControlIt!. Feasibility is demonstrated by having inexperienced human operators use a smartphone’s web browser to control Dreamer, a torquecontrolled humanoid robot based on series elastic actuators, and make it perform a dualarm manipulation task. The implementation serves as a proof of concept and foundation upon which many advanced humanoid robot technologies can be researched and developed.
The team is trying to determine how people could control a vast number of intelligent machines that could be produced within the next few years. They suggest in their report that:
“Humanoid robots will likely one day outnumber humans, which means each person may need to handle multiple humanoid robots.”
The software the team created is designed to operate a humanoid robot using web browsers that most people use to access the Internet– even from smartphones. Its cloud-based technology would first detect the human controller’s movements for the robot to imitate. But the ability to think and act is yet to be determined.
It’s unlikely that the team could replicate real live R2D2s or C3POs. But what if they could?