They are walking, talking, making sounds and even racing an assembly line. A group of scientists in England are making the world’s first ever living robots with the help of sophisticated engineering tools and the aid of artificial intelligence software.
Some of the little machines, nicknamed RHBO-S (for Robot Horse and Roborock) can even walk and talk. The robot bytes of past generations of robots are tiny, hard to handle and incapable of helping out around the house, which is what attracted the researchers to the project.
Scientists are trying to make life easier for human workers, who they say are overworked and not getting the job done.
“Humans today are, in many cases, overworked. It’s important to imagine a robot that can apply logic and purpose to a job,” Nick Matthews, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Salford who is heading the project, said.
“The robots’ innate intelligence allows them to interact in ways that are ‘smart’ to a human, and make better decisions than we can. This is life-changing and will soon help people in many different areas.”
RHBO-S is controlled from another robot, which allows them to participate in the process of building a house.
Engineers said they hope to use the robot techniques to create “pre-fabricated homes in a fraction of the time,” Matthews said. “It will be possible to use state-of-the-art building construction techniques to build modular apartments for rent, without the need for a real estate agent or architect.”
There are some concerns about creating robots that can make their own decisions, but there have been some successes in that area, scientists said.
And though the robots are designed to be in control of each other, scientists hope they can also run independently. The robot-builders must still figure out the best path to take for each of the robots, although they said they were encouraged by the early results.
While the two robots can currently speak, they can’t be moved around. Once they’ve worked through several steps, the pair is given directions. If one is more advanced than the other, a human worker can provide a lecture on the purpose of the task, or open the path for it.
Researchers are experimenting with larger and more varied tasks, and are developing robot “vehicles” that will carry bricks and other materials. Matthews said he hopes the idea will one day make its way to the construction of houses in developing countries, where humans don’t often work that hard.