|by HumanoidoWhen I first saw Hui Tong (humanoid) I began taking photos, just like the hundreds of other Chinese people who had gathered there. Then, a great surprise happenedthe Chinese man on the stage demonstrating the humanoid robot suddenly jumped down to block my camera! Granted, I had not tanned in some time and I was the only non-Asian Western person amidst thousands of Chineseyet my appearance was like raising a flag! But in China, as we say, welcome to Chinaa developing nation. In an ocean of people dressed in black, I stuck out like a sore thumb ¦Forward two yearsthis time I returned to the Science Center, appearing much more stealthier to attempt photos again. I wore long pants in the hot 90 degree plus temperatures, and blended in by wearing all black (the same as everyone else) and, as an added degree of precautionary incognito, I donned a black cap, black shoes and a black bag. I was immediately met with success and good luck throughout the day. Lets recount the tracks taken through the Chinese dreamland of science and roboticsand reveal an amazing surprise!<p >The opening ceremony began with something familiar. Two smaller humanoid robots from South Korea were set on the stage to autonomously perform like twins. The duo was obviously of the same family to the original Robonova humanoids, having a similar number of DOF, build and motions. They went through very interesting performances on their own, including dance, martial arts, acrobatics and spectacular motions. On occasion, one would fall down, then get back up and continue performing. The smoothness of their walking and seamless movements was remarkable. This performance immediately captured the attention and spirit of many young Chinese school children, who would do anything to crawl up on the stage to touch and shake hands with these little mechanical men who were so alive with the magic of motion and inspiration. This could be the first time that any of these children had set eyes on a robot, and especially a humanoid one!
<p >The Chinese say The humanoid robot is the
The Chinese say The humanoid robot is the highest achievement of development in robotics. You can appreciate its lovely performance and feel that our future new partner is stepping into our life.
What happened to the large humanoids? Just 15 minutes earlier, the large humanoid robots fell ill and were no longer able to continue their performances. You could not blame the robots, they were forced to perform every 15 to 30 minutes, all day, every week, month, and year, a grueling exercise schedule that would be daunting to any human. Now they were locked up, resting an indeterminate period of recovery time behind the two big doors and no one was allowed to go in.
Do Humanoids (Lei Ren De) Become Sick?
China is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. But you could say China is hot year round. Many Chinese people are comfortable in temperatures ranging from 80 to 90 degrees. Even in the cold of winter when its only a few degrees outside, indoors it will feel like a heated oven (at least to most Western people). There was no exception to this rule at the Science Museum and I felt myself rapidly fading in the heat. Immediately I extracted a Chinese fan from my carry bag, my only survival tool. With it, I could last another hour. But other things were not so lucky. First to go down, as in down time, were two full size Chinese humanoids. They simply could not perform continuously in the heat and became sick. Next to fall ill, after I had luckily taken my allotment of photos, was my SONY camera. It overheated and started behaving strangely, literally shaking. I could not last any longer, learning a lesson that humanoids, machines, and humans can all fall ill from the same thingheat!
Crash Course in Chinese Robotics Language
Heres your opportunity to learn some important Chinese robotics terms, which is useful when visiting and corresponding/chatting with your new Chinese robotics-enthusiast friends. The mini-dictionary includes the English, followed by Chinese Pin-Yin, which is a type of Romanized Chinese language that does not exactly follow the rules of English phonetic pronunciation (for example: pronounce Q as CH). You can easily find the simplified corresponding Chinese symbols on the web. There are many sources on the web and a variety of books and tapes available to learn Chinese.
|English Words Pin YinFriend . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Peng You
Welcome . . . . . . . . . . . .Huan Ying
China . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Zhong Guo
USA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mei Guo
South Korea . . . . . . . . . .Han Guo
Robot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ji Qi Ren
Machine . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ji Qi
Mechanical . . . . . . . . . . .Ji Xie De
Humanoid . . . . . . . . . . . .Lei Ren De
Walk (relative to walk) . .Xing Zou
Run . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ben Pao
Wheel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lun Zi
Remote (adjective) . . . . .Yuan Chen De
Remote (noun) . . . . . . . .Yuan Chen Cao Zuo
|English Words Pin YinController ………………..Kong Zhi Qi
Computer ………………..Dian Nao
Torso ………………………Qu Gan
Speech ……………………Yan Yu
Brain ……………………….Da Nao
Program ………………….Chen Xu
Sensor…………………….Chuan Gan Qi
|Ma TianTian, the Master Operator of the two Chinese-made humanoid robots, was located and a request was made to see the two humanoids to take photos. I increased my chances of photos by stating the big humanoids could stay behind the door. While I hid behind a Chinese translator, a lightning bolt of pure luck struck! Ma TianTian had great patience and granted permission for me to see and photograph both full scale humanoids, and proceeded to unlock the door. I was overwhelmed with excitement and enthusiasm to think that these two large robots from China would now be revealed to the Western World! The large robot is officially named humanoid Hui Tong and additionally goes by the nickname of Beibei JingJing. Except for the stylish color, both robots appear similar, standing at a height of 170 cm and weighing in at 70 kg. These humanoids were designed and made at the Beijing Li Gong (Polytechnic) University. Mr. Lin Zhao is the leading robotics expert at the university and in charge of the immense project a massive cooperative effort.|
<p > <p >These humanoids have very heavy-duty arms, intended for
lifting heavy objects and performing industrial work. The hands
have interesting fingers and rotating wrists along with an elbow and
extra joint. The side chest cavity includes an opening to air-cool the internals.
The front view shows a broad humanoid with wide shoulders while the
side view suggests leaner build.
|<div >Guarding the door. The large humanoids were kept locked up behind these two big doors. Smaller twin
robots had to fill in with a substitute performance for the big robots. The small humanoid on the left had
fallen but stood up again without any help.
Manufacturing materials include aluminum and ABS plastic. With 28 degrees of freedom, internally it includes positioning motors and encoder wheels, bearings, sensors, controllers, a harmonic reducer, gyroscopes, and other components. But what does it do? Its multiple functions include forward and backward locomotion, squatting, dancing, performing martial arts and dialogue, and its done by wireless control. Next, the journey led through the museum to other robotic Chinese inventions, including an under sea robotics vehicle, two large white robot manipulators, and orange robot arms that could fill medical vials and write Chinese characters on a display screen held by another robot arm. Additionally, one could sense the rich Chinese history by viewing many wood mechanical devices such as a Loom, Pestle, and Water Mill, complete with gears, cogs and a mechanical gold mine! You might be surprised to see the variety of precision mechanical things that were built from wood many Chinese Dynasties ago. Mechanical robots are in some serious sense embedded and rooted deeply in Chinese history!
|Guarding the door. The large humanoids were kept locked up behind these two big doors. Smaller twin robots had to fill in with a substitute performance for the big robots. The small humanoid on the left had fallen but stood up again without any help.||Guarding the door. The large humanoids were kept locked up behind these two big doors. Smaller twin robots had to fill in with a substitute performance for the big robots. The small humanoid on the left had fallen but stood up again without any help.|
<p >Machined Robotic Hand. The Chinese say that hands are fine and complex in structure, and powerful in function – the colorful civilized world is created by hands. So the largest dream of humanity is to create hands like those of man. Unfortunately an active hand is the hardest structure to duplicate. Buttons and a joystick control the positioning of this artificial hand.
|The Korean robots could perform acrobatics, including this precision head stand.|
|Chinese Water Powered Pestle (206 BC- 20 AD). Ancient Chinese made many mechanical and robotic inventions (to take the place of human work) out of wood formed into cogs, wheels, cams, levers, shafts, gears, sliders, pivots, racks and pinions. The water powered Pestle is one example. Its a waterdriven grain processing device. The driving mechanism is a huge vertical water wheel. Water flow forces the wheel to turn the drive shaft; wings raise the pestle arm, then the pestle drops by gravity and pounds the rice. Use of this machine enabled day and night processing of grain. Many of the large scale working models are indicative of precise and ultra-fine woodworking skills.||Industrial Robot Arms. China manufactures large robot arms for industrial and medical applications. Seen here, a robot arm paces through its program to fill scientific medical test tubes.|
|The Chinese developed gunpowder, language script, arrow-proof vests, astronomical observatories and rockets. But somewhere in history they closed their doors to the outside world. If this created a lag in science and technology, the Chinese are now catching up. China is becoming more open and sending probes to the Moon, exploring the deep sea, launching space-walking men into space, and now creating one of the most advanced and sophisticated humanoid robots in the world!For visiting days and hours, contact the China Science and Technology Museum, CSTM, No. 5, Bei Chen East Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing China 100012. http://www.cstm.org.cn/eapdomain/home/english/index.htm|
ROBOTS AT THE CHINA WORLD EXPO
The Worlds EXPO held in Shanghai, China, is another place where you can see glimpses of the future, including robotics evolution and developments in artificial intelligence. The robots exhibited have highly specialized and amazing individual skills. Farther down from the France buildings Paris Eiffel Tower exhibit, behind the thick glass walls obscured by hundreds of people wanting a closer look, were numerous humanoids living in the robot exhibit. Literally living – sitting, standing, stretching, moving, sleeping, turning, waving, making eye contact some would sit a while, rest, get up and then interact with people.
I am currently touring China and found myself at the EXPO, pleasantly surprised by the robotics exhibitions. The man beside me knew more about robots than I could imagine. He pounded on the window and frantically waved. At first, it seemed a little tongue-in-cheek to think that one of the NAO humanoids on display could respond, and in particular the one he was focused on¦ But surprisingly, he appeared to attract the attention of one (NAO is an advanced humanoid robot by Aldebaran, a French company). NAO turned around to face the man, walked over and looked directly at him, eyes to eyes, and waved back! Coincidence or not, it made everyone a believer in its sophistication and life-like talents. These advanced robots can do more things, have more fluid motions and are more human and life-like than one might expect.
At the EXPOs Japan building, outside on the tall rising skyscrapers wall, three Japanese humanoid robots gripped the side of the buildings scaffolding structure and relentlessly, effortlessly, slowly climbed their way to the top and then down again. How they managed this skillful process all day, reliably, in about 130 degree sunlight was one of the most impressive displays of humanoid robots and reliable technology to behold. You could actually see their hands and feet reach for holding places and their faces turning, apparently looking around to find the best grip and foothold locations. They wore a kind of athletic jump suit and at first glance it made you wonder who was up there climbing the great wall!
That greeting was just an indication of more great things to come inside the building was the stuff of the future. Walking past the three dimensional TV, things only seen in science fiction movies filled the room. If you could pull yourself away from the theater size screen where your hand motions manipulated windows and virtual reality, robots began to make their entrance. On the first stage, a robot moved over to greet you – not taking a single breath during an introductive speech in Mandarin Chinese. On the theater stage, Toyotas new personal robotic transport vehicle was impressively driven around. Another highlight was Toyotas full size humanoid. It walked out onto stage right, raised a violin in hand and played a beautiful melody.
We live in an era with many specialized robots of 2010 each robot has some particular skill, musical, social, or athletic, for example. It wont be surprising in the next era to see these specialties come together . Seeing the EXPO, it wouldnt take too much imagination to dream about humanoids walking down the streets of Shanghai, blending in with humans.
The Expo 2010 in Shanghai China is open from May 1 to October 31, 2010 and is expected to attract 70 million visitors. For more information, visit http://en.expo2010.cn/the editors.
The greeting robot spoke Mandarin Chinese while moving back and forth on stage
|Above: thousands of people waited in line seven hours to see the Japan building. Below left small inset: The climbing robots are outside on the Japan building, climbing up and down all day (video screen grab). Below: the Toyota robot playing the violin.|
<p > <p >NAO from Aldebaran company.
<p > <p >The Toyota personal transport vehicle.
Words by Humanoido