A robot as good as the human body
The goal of the Roboy project is to advance humanoid robotics to the state where robots are as capable as human bodies. It should be just as fast, versatile, robust and flexible.
To achieve this goal, we create a platform for robot development inspired by biology that unites students, researchers, companies and artists from a broad spectrum of disciplines. To ensure unrestricted development we keep all results open source. And we actively influence the public perception of robotics to level the cultural ground for our innovation through public displays, arts and public speeches.
It all started with Roboy Junior as the first prototype in a genealogy of Roboys, and we are currently – after years of modular development – working towards building the second generation of Roboy.
The first Roboy
Roboy Junior is probably the most human robot in the world. He has a human-like skeleton, muscle structure, and incredibly cute looks. Also, he is a soft robot research platform for studying the coordination of muscles, a messenger of a new generation of robots that could share our living space with us, and the first anthropomimetic robot in the Human Brain Project (HBP).
While most robots in the world have motors in the joints, Roboy uses muscles and tendons as humans do. This not only makes his motions very smooth and natural, it makes him safe to interact with, but also the perfect robot for the HBP. Because when you test theories about how the brain controls a body, you will need a body that works like a human body.
Being so very cute, everyone likes Roboy. Therefore Roboy goes to events, talks to people, and is an ambassador for a new kind of robotics. And we, and everyone, love him for that.
A bit of history:
Roboy was born in the artificial intelligence laboratory of Prof. Rolf Pfeifer in Zurich, Switzerland. After more than 30 years of research into embodied robotics, Roboy was to be an ambassador for this kind of robotics. It was presented at the Robots on Tour event, where the laboratory celebrated its 25th anniversary. He was given 48 motors and a 3D printed skeletal structure, and created with an anthropomimetic, compliant and tendon-driven design. Roboy was built with the support of private companies, universities and many helpful hands.
Towards the next Roboy
Work towards building a new Roboy, Roboy 2.0, is currently underway by an interdisciplinary enthusiast society at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, comprised of engineers, scientists, and artists – students and professionals alike. We strive to complete Roboy 2.0 by end of 2017.
To prepare for this step, we have been working in a number of focus topics: Mobility, communication and Virtual Reality (VR):
- Mobility: Roboy Junior has been bound to sit on his custom-built box for a long while. The “Stand Up!” team is currently investigating new control strategies on human sized legs by applying state of the art machine learning techniques. In parallel, smaller muscle units to fit in smaller and more robust legs are being developed.
- Communication: By extending Roboy‘s set of cognitive skills, the “Hi There!” team is enabling Roboy to independently communicate with people. By empowering him to detect human presence, recognise people and facial expressions, Roboy will become a fluent speaker and a great listener.
- Virtual Reality: The “Virtual Roboy” team is working hard to bring Roboy to VR and emulate his sensual inputs, such as vision and hearing. Today’s virtual reality technology will enable anyone to feel like Roboy feels and allow us to simulate Roboy’s behaviour at any time.
Roboy Junior 2.0 will be better, smarter, and more humanlike, the team is working hard to make him as conversational as possible and maybe, he will even walk.
Making the world ready for Roboy
Parallel to the pure technical work devoted in making Roboy 2.0 a more advanced robot compared to Roboy Junior, the scope of the Roboy project is also to bring Roboy closer to the people. Roboy is probably the cutest robot in the world, and this definitely plays in his favour. But its through projects such as Roboy & Lucy, Roboy’s education platform, Roboy at school, the Roboy game, the Roboy play, and Roboy art that we actually bring people closer to the robotics world, starting from a young age and throughout their career.
All about the people
Roboy has had extensive media coverage and in three years attended more than 70 events worldwide. You can book to Roboy to attend one of your events, or visit him when he is on display at an event near you. Roboy’s mechanical development and software are completely open source. All expertise, ideas and inventions do not belong to one specific entity, and everyone has the chance to advance Roboy’s technology.