Many roboticists are focused on developing robots that resemble humans. We’re talking robots that can walk, talk, express emotion, and even look like human beings. But what’s with this obsession with humanoid robots?
A lot of people would argue that it’s more beneficial to design a robot based on its capabilities rather than its appearance. If you had an option between a robot that looked like a trash can but could carry your groceries to and from your car, or robot that could raise its eyebrow every time you spilled some milk but was otherwise useless, you would probably go with the more useful robot. Useful robot function and artificial intelligence might seem like more worthwhile ventures than developing a robot simply to be like a human, but if that’s the case, then why the focus on humanoid robots?
Humanoid robots could perform as many different activities as humans. A giant robotic arm might be great at assembling cars, but it can’t drive one. Maybe by creating a robot that is human sized and human shaped, you could create a robot that is as apt at as many different activities has a human being. The thought is, develop a robot that is physically capable of doing everything a human can do, and the uses for that robot will come about later. There are plenty of people working on improving the software and artificial intelligence for robots, so maybe by the time that is perfected, a fully capable humanoid robot will be perfected as well.
Of course another explanation is that humanoid robots are, quite simply, cool. Movies, stories, and literature depict robots that live side by side with humans, and even robots that can be mistaken for humans. While you do have sci-fi robots that want to take over the world, you’ve also got sci-fi robots that save it.
Science fiction has always been a huge catalyst in advancing technology and inspiring real science. Who knows? Maybe one day, because of our obsession with humanoid robots, we could actually end up living side by side with walking, talking robots! This sounds like far-fetched fiction,thanks to the robot named Pepper, we’re already doing this.