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Wednesday, 12th December 2012
In General Japan News,

Japanese researchers closer to creating lifelike robot

The dream of making a robot which can mimic a human's skeleton and muscle structure may be closer than we think, thanks to a team of researchers from the University of Tokyo.

Launched at the Humanoids 2012 conference in Osaka, Japan, Kenshiro is the latest prototype from researchers who are trying to recreate a human body using technology.

Previous models were unable to mimic muscle and bones without adding too much weight, so researchers decided to break the problem down into body parts.

They looked at the weight of a real person's body parts including areas such as the calf and backbone and then recreated them using aluminium, and held them together with artificial ligaments.

The end result is a robot which has an incredible 160 muscles which are broken down into 50 in the legs, 12 in the shoulders, 22 in the neck and 76 in the trunk.

Standing at 158 centimetres tall, Kenshiro weighs just 50 kilograms – the equivalent of a twelve-year-old boy.

It seems that the boffins who created Kenshiro are still some way from mimicking human movement however.

Writing on Physics website, Bob Yirka describes the robot as "a collection of parts cobbled together to form a single whole".

Mr Yirka explains that the robot can only barely walk, and while it is capable of doing deep knee bends "the rest of the body seems out of sync".

He suggests that the project is arguably more for research purposes, although he says it perhaps shows that the researchers' ultimate goal is to create a robot that not only looks like, and is connected in the same way as, a human, but moves like one too.

In November, researchers at CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory in Japan made a breakthrough in robotics when they announced the launch of a robot which could be controlled purely by a person's thoughts.

The process requires a person to wear a cap which captures their brain waves. A signal processor then interprets these brainwaves and translates them into commands that can be understood by a robot, as it has been pre-programed to respond in a certain way.

Written by Mark Smith