Researchers at Georgia Tech are teaching robots to move like humans. Why, one might ask, would one teach a robot to move more like a human? Do the researchers have secret aspirations of entering the bot in “You Think You Can Dance?”
Seriously though, according to an article at physorg.com:
“‘It’s important to build robots that meet people’s social expectations because we think that will make it easier for people to understand how to approach them and how to interact with them,’ said Andrea Thomaz, assistant professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing.”
I can see where that makes sense. The more human something appears, the easier it is for most of us to interact with it. The research involves having humans observe a robot and, based on the robots movements, describe what the robot is doing. The traditional jerky, start/stop movement of a robot like that of RoboCop are not a very good “human” impersonation.
Reworking joints and how the robot moves allowed the research bot, Simon, to move in a more human-like manner. The more human-like motion allows humans to better perceive what the robot is doing. The longer term focus is to actually have it perform the same motion in a somewhat different manner. After all, no human wave is “exactly” the same twice… it is believed that introducing slight variations will make the motion even more human.