We shouldn’t say iCub — the humanoid robot from Italy — is creepy. After all, human-like robots are in their infancy and an early computer or automobile would hardly be indicative of where those industries would take us. You can see the little guy in the video below.
The effort is open source and was part of an EU project that has been adopted by 20 labs around the world. The video just shows a guy in VR gear operating the robot, but the website has a lot of technical information if you want to know more.
The robot has 53 motors and has vision and audio sensors along with other sensors like accelerometers and gyroscopes. The robot is meant to be the size of a three and half year old child. We don’t know why. There are many projects based on the hardware including Darwin which is trying to develop a robot that can assemble and disassemble complex objects and another project aimed at giving the robot linguistic skills.
We couldn’t help but notice that the operator’s motions were not replicated by the robot. Instead, walking forward was more of a cue that the robot should also walk forward. We get why this is, but it is also fairly inefficient. We get the cool factor of you walk and your avatar walks, but if you have to take 20 steps to the avatar’s one childlike gait, you are going to wear out pretty quickly.