Inflatable Humanoid Cybernetic Avatar
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 15 October 2023

Researchers in Japan are experimenting with an inflatable cybernetic avatar with a humanoid upper body that can communicate through gestures. Lighter and safer than conventional robots, it looks a bit creepy and even ridiculous.   

One thing most humanoid robots have in common with their science fiction counterparts is that they are intimidating. Who would want to get up close and personal with, say, Atlas? Even smaller scale robots such as Pepper and Nao which are relatively friendly don't exactly tempt you to cuddle them. However, if we want robots to play a part in caring for the sick, the elderly and the young then we need them to have an acceptable physical presence.

The video posted on You Tube a few days ago by RobotAnd ElasticMind is to accompany the paper “Inflatable Humanoid Cybernetic Avatar for Physical Human–Robot Interaction,” by Ryuma Niiyama, Masahiro Ikeda, Young Ah Seong which was published in the International Journal of Automation in May 2023 and shows that, while there is nothing scary about the blue inflatable body that houses a conventional telepresence device, it is a bit creepy:

As is evident from this short clip, the inflatable CA is much lighter, safer, and cheaper than conventional humanoid robots and can be folded when deflated. According to the researchers these properties are ideal for physical human–robot interaction (pHRI) and allow real-time collection of human behavior through interaction.

The emerging field of physical Human–Robot Interaction (pHRI) has the potential to revolutionize many industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and logistics. Concerned with the design, development, and evaluation of robots that can safely and effectively collaborate with humans in shared workspaces, it requires researchers to consider a wide range of factors, including human safety, robot control, and human-robot communication.

The video demonstrates some basic communicative gestures -  nodding the head and raising the arms - showing how the actuators can be used to act at distance.

InflatableFig1

The paper provides more details and comes to the conclusion that uses of inflatable humanoid CAs is a promising platform for physical interaction experiments.

Inflatablesq 

More Information

Inflatable Humanoid Cybernetic Avatar for Physical Human–Robot Interaction 

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 15 October 2023 )