MIT develops vision-guided, human-operated robot

A team PhD students at MIT have developed a vision-guided humanoid robot that is steered by a human pilot strapped into a remote-control exoskeleton, with built-in reflexes.

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Seen on Gizmag:Robotics research is moving along at such a fast pace that it can be difficult to spot the major milestones of innovation in the technology as they go by. One significant step forward is in evidence at MIT in the form of Hermes. Physically it's all robot, but its actions and reflexes are controlled by a human being.

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Our take:

A team PhD students at MIT have developed a humanoid robot that is steered by a human pilot strapped into a remote-control exoskeleton, with built-in reflexes.

The idea of the robot, according to PhD candidate Joao Ramos, is to “put the human’s brain inside the robot.” Fans of science fiction movies may think of the battle for Zion in The Matrix Revolutions, or any fight scene from Pacific Rim, in which a human controls a robot.

Equipped with two three-fingered hands, the robot is shown in a video pouring coffee and crushing soda cans, as part of a demonstration. A camera on the robot’s head feeds video straight back to the pilot so the person can see through the robot’s head as it moves. A future version of the robot, which is called HERMES, would merge autonomous control with human intelligence, according to PhD candidate Albert Wang.

"The human's still going to provide that creativity, that problem-solving and that large-scale coordination of all the joints, but we've designed the robot to be stronger than a person, so we'd imagine that in the future we want to merge some level of autonomous control along with the human's intelligence," said Wang.

In the future, assuming that we (hopefully) don’t need to use robots to fight off ancient Godzilla-like creatures or an army of self-aware robots, HERMES would presumably be suitable for use in such applications as search and rescue, military/defense, firefighting, and perhaps even more.

- James Carroll, Senior Web Editor

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