Some Thoughts on Humanoid Robotics

 

Ming Xie

2017.10.1

 

Without a human body, human intelligence cannot be developed on its own. This fact equally applies to robots. Most importantly, it explains why many research teams working in the field of robotics do build physical prototypes.

In recent decades, it has been an ambition of human beings to develop human-like machines, which are called robots in general and humanoid robots in particular. So far, tremendous progresses have been made in science and engineering for the understanding of design, analysis and control of grasping, biped walking and manipulating mechanisms. In parallel, a great deal of wonderful results has been generated from the investigation on various principles behind learning, and comprehension of language and images, etc.

Fueled by the excitements and impressive shows of HONDA's and SONY's humanoid robots, should we believe that a new era of humanoid robots has just started, and that more excitements are waiting ahead?

In fact, humanoid robots are human-made inventions and creatures. Therefore, the development of humanoid robots is basically invention-centric research, which should not be shadowed by our limited understanding about the nature. Instead, we have the full freedom in exercising our creativity for the invention of humanoid robots.

On the other hand, humanoid robotics research will gain a lot of benefits from the results of the discovery on how human body and mind work. As the outcome of invention will stimulate discovery-centric research in various ways, humanoid robots which are embodiments of mind and body, are undoubtedly ideal platforms for us to validate, or apply, theories from the study in neuroscience, psychology, learning, and cognition.

We all know that the embodiment of mechanics, electronics, control, communication, perception, decision-making, artificial psychology, and machine intelligence has greatly enlarged the scope of scientific investigation into the engineering approaches and principles underlying the development of humanoid robots. Because both the discovery-centric research and the invention-centric research in humanoid robotics could make progress hand-in-hand, this opens a new horizon in which fruitful results are expected to emerge in various forms of new theories, new technologies and new products. In comparison with industrial robotics research, humanoid robotics research will certainly offer much more opportunities and inspirations for new inventions and new discoveries.

Therefore, our goal toward this research direction is to adopt an integrative approach which aims at developing human-like Artificial Self-Intelligence (or artificial life) which could autonomously learn and develop its physical, intellectual, and emotional abilities through the interaction with human beings and environments. Some of our research focuses include: cognitive vision, cognitive speech, machine perception, machine learning, intelligent & real-time OS, image understanding, natural language understanding, conversational dialogue, machine translation, etc.

 


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