Kengoro Humanoid Robot by Johou Systems Kougaku Laboratory

Will humanoid robots serve a practical use, or are they a passing gimmick?

Humanoid robots like InMoov and Hanson Robotics (creators of Sophia) are dominating the news. But will humanoid robots serve a practical use, or are they a passing gimmick? Robots that mimic human features have the potential to perform otherwise life-endangering jobs and serve in medical research, such as prosthetic development.

The answer to humanoid integration in society seems to lie in whether developers can scale down the bots to be portable and affordable. In order for humanoid robots to be practical to society, they need to be capable of physical strength with portability – something that cannot current bulky cooling systems cannot accomplish.

That is why scientists at the University of Tokyo’s Johou Systems Kougaku laboratory have created a sweating robot. Researchers developed a humanoid robot that holds the current record of accurate mimicry of human musculoskeletal structures, with more than 100 different kinds of movement. Because of its intricate system of motors and wires, the bot can accomplish physical tasks such playing tennis and doing pull-ups. The robots are named Kenshiro, modeled after a 13-year-old boy, and Kengoro. Because Kengoro was already a larger bot, researchers decided to try an innovative, lighter cooling system.

To avoid the bulky equipment, scientists drilled tiny holes, or pores, in the aluminum with a laser. The pores passively move water throughout the robot as it performs its actions. As it reaches the bot’s outside layer, evaporating water cools the robot.

This design is not as effective at cooling as other systems, but it allows the Kengoro robot to perform push-ups for 11 minutes straight without overheating, and it keeps its weight light. Just remember to keep Kengoro hydrated! Because it loses water, just like us, the robot needs a “drink” of deionised water every 12 hours.

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