What Is A Humanoid Robot?

Humanoid Robotics is not an attempt to recreate humans. The goal is not, nor should it ever be, to make machines that can be mistaken for or used interchangeably with real human beings. Rather, the goal is to create a new kind of tool, fundamentally different from any we have yet seen because it is designed to work with humans as well as for them. Humanoids will interact socially with people in typical, everyday environments. We already have robots to do tedious, repetitive labor for specialized environments and tasks. Instead, humanoids will be designed to act safely alongside humans, extending our capabilities in a wide variety of tasks and environments.

An early version of Cog, developed under Rodney Brooks at the MIT AI Laboratory.

Defining a humanoid robot is a lot like defining what it means to be human. Most likely, you’ll know one when you see it, and yet have trouble putting the characteristics on paper. The physical constitution of the body is clearly crucial. Not surprisingly, some have chosen to define a humanoid robot as any robot with two arms, two legs and a human-like head. Unfortunately, such a definition says nothing about the ability of this robot to receive information, process it and respond. Moreover, many Humanoid Robotics projects spend the majority of their efforts on a portion of the body such as the head, the legs or the arms.


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