In a few years, you might not have to blackmail your friends to get them to help you move house, because you’ll have robot-bros to help you out with carrying all the heavy stuff. A group of French researchers on the “Interactive Digital Humans” team at the Montpellier Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics and Microelectronics have been working on a bro-bot that is programmed to work with humans to carry things, adapting to changes in its environment to support a load with a human partner.
While humanoid robots have been able to pick up and move objects autonomously (even while being sadistically tortured with hockey sticks) for a while, the IDH team wants to design a bro-bot that can work collaboratively with humans, who are not perfectly programmed machines.
Right now, it’s pretty limited — it can only carry things in a few different postures (and very slowly), but as the technology behind it gets sharper it could be applied to a lot of different situations. While humanoid robots may not be the most useful form for helper-robots, in certain collaborative situations it makes sense to have a robot that has similar physical capabilities as a human helper. For industrial lifting in controlled environments, different designs would be far more efficient, but for tasks that require a human level of dexterity (like going up and down stairs), a two-legged machine-bro is the best choice.
The IDH’s bot can both take the lead in carrying things, hauling a heavy object with a human partner in tow, or be led around, bearing the weight of an object by itself.
Check out it in action below.