How Big Should a Humanoid Robot Be?

A humanoid robot with a sleek white and black design stands in a warehouse with shelves full of cardboard boxes.

Humanoid robots are all the rage. Not in real life, necessarily. The most popular actual working humanoid robot, Pepper, is no longer being produced. But a few humanoid robots are in service here and there, and others are making headlines on a regular basis. Some humanoid robots are as convincingly human looking as dolls or mannequins, and some are very mechanical in appearance. They come in just a few colors and there is not much agreement on the question of what a head or face ought to look like. There are quite a few different sizes, though, and that seems like something that could be more than just a matter of taste. How big should a humanoid robot be?

The budget option, the Unitree G1, is a petite 4 feet tall. The point in this video where the man ki9cks and punches the robot, given the size difference, looks like an adult attacking a child. That may or may not be the creepiest thing in the video, but we wonder how much that would affect comfort levels for coworkers. Arstechnica questions whether a 4-ft robot could reach anything in a normal human workspace. Universal design could be the solution.

But Arstechnica point out that G1 can’t actually do anything much. It was able to open walnuts in the video, though not in a very practical or efficient manner (think of smashing a walnut with a hammer and then imagine having to pick up all the bits in order to eat them), but did not demonstrate any other useful skills. It also opened a bottle of Coke, but dramatically spilled at least half of the liquid. Maybe it could move objects from a low shelf to a lower shelf, or be a line leader for a third-grade classroom.

The Robot Report suggests that its actual value would be in research and development, since it costs a mere $16,000 and can use AI.

However, there are other humanoid robots in the 4-foot plus range, including Boston Dynamics Atlas, who was just 4’11”, though it looks larger in its music videos.

Go bigger

Sophia, a highly human-looking robot, is about the size of an average woman. She is able to interact convincingly with humans, producing reasonable conversations as any chatbot does. She is a social robot and is not supposed to have any practical skills, so we don’t hold it against her that she doesn’t. She does seem to be a comfortable size for human interactions and she could probably reach workstations in many settings.

Valkyrie is 6’2″, the size of a tall man. She weighs 300 lbs and is intended for heavy jobs in harsh environments — like the moon or Mars. Also in the video below is Apollo, a 5’8″, 160-lb robot who is also the size of a man, though a smaller one. Apollo is a general purpose robot, currently working in warehouses and on assembly lines, where it carries things from one place to another.

Human size

It makes sense for humanoid robots to be about the size of humans, whether children, women, or men. The most common reason for focusing on humanoid robots is that they will fit into a human-centered workspace and therefore be better able not replace human workers.

Indramat never made components for humanoid robots, but if you need support or service for your Indramat motion control systems, we should be your first call. We can provide fast turnaround on repair, reman, or replacement units.