Tokyo, Japan – Biomimetics is the science of studying biological systems and then copying the designs in creating artificial machines or materials. So what happens when you combine the sciences of robotics and biomimetics? The answer is the Kenshiro robot, a machine inspired by the immaculate design of the human body.
According to IEEE Spectrum, researchers at the University of Tokyo are attempting to emulate the full range of musculoskeletal features found in the human body:
“Kenshiro mimics the body of the average Japanese 12-year-old male, standing at 158 centimeters tall and weighing 50 kilograms. Kenshiro’s body mirrors almost all the major muscles in a human, with 160 pulley-like ‘muscles’—50 in the legs, 76 in the trunk, 12 in the shoulder, and 22 in the neck. It has the most muscles of any other bio-inspired humanoid out there.”
The “ancestor” of this Kenshiro robot was named the Kenzoh. Unfortunately, Kenzoh had a weight problem and the full-body model was projected to weigh 100 kg or 220 pounds.
The new Kenshiro design mimics the weight ratio in balancing the various parts of the body. Combined with a five times greater total power output, they are also able to mimic the human muscle torque and joint speeds.
According to CNET, the researchers have made progress toward a goal they outlined in 2010:
“Many humanoids have been developed, but more complicated and flexible humanoids must be developed in order to realize more natural and various motions like humans.”
The Japanese team plans on participating in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. Their entry, called the SCHAFT robot, is featured in this YouTube video:
Robotics has progressed a long ways in a relatively short time frame. But we’re still a long ways from the fictional robots of the movies. What do you think about the Kenshiro robot?