Digital Revolution


Icub, humanoid robot :

ICub is a humanoid robot that scientists decided to create so that they can study cognitive systems. The project started in 2004. Ten years have passed since the European Commission of Cognitive Systems and Robotics granted subsidies to iCub. This international project is developed primarily by forty scientists - researchers and technicians - from IIT in Genoa in cooperation with research centers and laboratories in 11 countries: Germany, England, Spain, USA, France, Spain , Italy, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey.

The humanoid iCub is designed to provide opportunities for researchers to study cognitive science, and in particular the apprehension of the outside world, whether near or far, concerning the manipulation of objects or interaction with people. For humans, this stage during which one we develop our powers of discovery and reaction occurs during childhood. This is why iCub has a human form, but in particular a child morphology.

It measures 104 centimeters and weighs between 23 and 25 kilos. It is powered by 54 motors which control 76 joints. But the most important components are undoubtedly its sensors, those who allow iCub to perceive its environment : two cameras, microphones, a gyroscope, accelerometer, force sensors and sensitive skin. If touched, the robot can identify the contact areas. Scientists from IIT look to make it evolve constantly, adding him more sensors to provide additional scientific research paths.

Already capable of performing a variety of movements, iCub is now motivated by targets and can express up to six emotions on her face, like raising eyebrows. For now, the voice does not show difference in intonation but human emotions displayed are nonetheless remarkable. And that's not all that iCub can do since it is also capable of playing, dancing and walking. We can see the robot mix these capabilities during a match of Air Hockey where it seems enjoy like mad. If winning or losing, these reactions are different. These are actually sensors that will allow the robot to have appropriate reactions. It will even complain about its own level : "I should be better at video games" for instance.

iCub also feels the caresses and kindness, which seems remarkable, if left a little scary side of it. It even calls for being touched again. A lack of hugs to be solved ... According to other videos posted by iCub HumanoidRobot, this new friend also begin to understand the language and improve its reasoning. It is also able to stand and resist certain physical pressure. But researchers still continue to refine this robot, hoping it will be closer to a real human.

For now, iCub is dedicated to advanced research in cognitive science. But the idea of having an iCub as companion at home running through the head of all roboticists from IIT. When iCub will be able to learn things and to learn renew, the humanoid child could enter to the field of general public.

But progresses are needed, particularly at the level of object recognition, as stereo cameras are an abyss from the perspective of bandwidth. The team of IIT equipped its robot with cameras 640 × 480 pixels. This is far from enough, but the current camera technology does not allow transiting the pictures by consuming less bandwidth. In terms of the platform, hardware as software, it is free to law. This means that if someone wants to build its own iCub he has everything he needs to manage to create it. But that will be very expensive. Indeed, IIT sells its robot € 250,000 and it is at production cost. ICub seems to be a watershed in terms of robotics, now the question is : how far scientist could go ? It is not without remind us an IRobot scenario ...