eccerobot mimics human skeleton and muscles
apr 08, 2012
eccerobot mimics human skeleton and muscles

‘eccerobot’ is a anthropomimetic robot torso

over two years after its original exhibition, designboom checks in with ‘eccerobot‘, the first anthropomimetic robot torso,
designed as a means of investigating machine consciousness by closely modeling the device’s skeletal and internal structure
to that of humans. earlier this year, new machinery framework for ‘eccerobot’ was awarded 1st place at the international cultural
and academic meeting of engineering students. the development of ‘eccerobot’ is led by robotics specialist owen holland
with the ETF robotics research group at the university of belgrade.

standard humanoid robots mimic the human form, but the mechanisms used in such robots are very different
from those in humans, and the characteristics of the robots reflect this. this places severe limitations on the kinds
of interactions such robots can engage in, on the knowledge they can acquire of their environment, and therefore
on the nature of their cognitive engagement with the environment.
‘ – the ETF research team

the most recent updates to ‘eccerobot’ involve developing higher-level cognitive functioning, using reinforcement learning
as a means of ‘teaching’ the device new functions. a virtual simulation of reinforced learning techniques, for example,
is presented in the video at the end of this article (here).

demo of ‘eccerobot’ in motion, at FET (european future technologies) 2011
video via popsci

tendons and actuators

additional view

the bones and joints of ‘eccerobot’  are composed of thermoplastic polymorph, a high tensile polymer that softens
when heated and can thus be molded into precise forms. about 80 ‘muscles’ each rely on an individual actuator for their motion,
each composed of a screwdriver motor with gearbox, kiteline ‘tendons’, and elastic shock cord.

the sensor system covers proprioception (one’s sense of the position of his own body parts), visual processing,
audio with vibrational sensors, an inertial unit, and tactile feedback. throughout these systems, the engineers seek
to mimic human reflexes and input processing; for example generating an artificial vestibulo-ocular reflex,
which is responsible for the reason a human can shake his head while reading a book without impeding his vision
of the text but not while keeping his head still and shaking the book at the same speed. two high-definition cameras
with field programmable gate arrays allow for efficient preprocessing and processing of visual input. two microphones
imitate the simultaneously directional and acoustical audio characteristics read by human ears, although vibration
and impact sensing through accelerometers offer an additional source of data.

the behaviour and ‘cognitive functioning’ of the robot consists of voluntary and involuntary movement control units,
‘ECCEOS’ (a physics-based computer model that compiles much of the data and functions together), and a higher level
unit uniting ‘perception’, ‘planning’, and ‘decision-making.’

mechanical rendering of the bones and muscle system in the arm

introductory demo to ‘eccerobot’, including how it is constructed

the most recent video by the team features a rendering of the physics-based model progressing in its ability to touch a target via reinforcement learning

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