Humanoids for the home diplayed at Drexel University

Humanoids for the home diplayed at Drexel University

Humanoids for the home: Drexel University to display robots for National Engineers Week that could become our mechanical maids

Published: Saturday, February 18, 2012, 11:30 AM Updated: Saturday, February 18, 2012, 11:53 AM
webRobot for sitecore body.ashx.jpgJaemi HUBO, a humanoid robot that could be cleaning instead of dancing

If you've been awaiting the arrival of a robotic servant who'd help take care of the kids, the pets and the house, you might be happy to know this tidbit: Drexel University engineers will be doing some preliminary tweaking on a group of identical "humaniods" that will be shipped out as part of an international robotics research project that will tap human brain power in at least eight American universities.

The seven adult-size robots -- far more exciting to a homeowner than the robotic floor cleaners, pool cleaners, and lawn mowers already on the market -- will be on display at the Philadelphia university on Monday as it kicks off the science-promoting events of National Engineers Week.

"These are world-class, state-of-the-art robots, says Youngmoo Kim, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. "No one has ever seen that many on the same stage before. Never in the world, and never in history."

But don't get excited just yet. "They are not ready to sweep the floor," says Kim, who also is assistant dean of media technologies in the College of Engineering and director of Drexel's Music and Entertainment Technology Laboratory. While the HUBOS (a contraction from "humanoid" and "robot") stand about 4 feet tall and weigh in at about 100 pounds each, developmentally, they seem a lot like babies. "We're working on getting them to walk without falling over," Kim says, "getting them to climb stairs, pick up small objects." They also can't talk or see or hear (which, actually, makes them also a bit like teenagers...). The computer-driven robots will be outfitted with cameras, microphones and tactile sensors and other apparatus that will allow them to make their way around in the real world, Kim says.

As eager as any kid (and her mom) might be to have a robot to clean up her bedroom, commercially available robots are probably decades away, Kim says. Aside from all the development they still need, the parts alone cost well into six figures, he said. Drexel was the catalyst and the U.S. entry point for the robots, funded through a $6 million National Science Foundation Grant. They were designed and built at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, with which Drexel's College of Engineering has partnered, sending both professors and students to Korea. The first robot, Jaemi HUBO arrived at Drexel in 2009 and, because of research, is developmentally ahead of its new peers. Pronounced “Jamie,” Jaemi is a colloquial Korean term for a Korean-American, and a name symbolic of the collaboration. The other robots have been flown in incrementally, with the last three arriving this month.

Once the Drexel team has finished work on them, the new robots will be shipped out to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, University of Southern California, Virginia Tech, Carnegie-Mellon and Purdue. Students from the University of Pennsylvania will continue to work on the robot that remains at Drexel.

Hubos are among humanoids being developed worldwide, with various countries in a robotics race to design the first commercially viable model. Having American students work on identical robots at different universities will allow for comparative research, Kim said. The aim is to put America at the forefront of humanoid robotics research. Unlike the one-dimensional robotic arms already being used to accomplish routine manufacturing tasks, humanoids are being designed to reside with people, and so significant design efforts have gone into facial expressions, appealing physical features and other characteristics.


So, how much longer will we have to wait for home robots? It’s been 50 years and countless cartoon reruns since the Jetsons’ mechanical maid Rosie first appeared, after all. Kim says "rapid progress is being made," but he estimates it could be 20 years to another half decade before robots are ready for housework.

Robots are already getting more kids interested in science, Kim says. Monday's meet-the-robots program runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes a presentation, showcase, robotics competition and photo opportunities. And, as Kim notes, it’s Presidents Day and a school holiday.

National Engineers Week, which runs Monday through Friday, was created to celebrate the work of engineers, and aims to encourage more American youngsters, particularly girls, to study science and engineering. At Drexel, public and private programs will focus on the role of engineers, and also showcase the research the new robots will support.

In the meantime, I'd suggest handing Jaemi a broom. The robot has been caught on video dancing, tinkering on a piano, throwing balls around, and exercising on a treadmill. Perhaps our scientists could work on getting Jaemi focused on more constructive tasks? Loading the dishwasher can’t be that difficult, and, hopefully, a robot would only have to be told once to do it.

Kimberly L. Jackson may be reached by e-mail

Dorota Kundera Headshot
Phone: 973-867-8134
Dated: March 19th 2012
Views: 1,254
About Dorota: Customer always comes first! Integrity – Care – Results! I love helping people sell and buy h...

Property Search

RSS Feed

View our latest blog posts in your RSS reader. Click here to access. RSS

Search Blog

Recent Blogs

Fall Festival At Wightman Fams This Saturday - Fall Festival this weekend at
4th Annual Client Appreciation Day - Please join the Crawford Home
The Crawford Home Selling Team Pumpkin Fest - Come see the Great Pumpkin at
Storm Clouds On The Horizon - There are some interesting trends

Saved Properties

This is a list of your favorite properties. We will email you if a property is reduced or leaves the market.

Click 'Save' to add a property to this list.

Register / Login

New & returning visitors please enter your information to login.

By clicking 'register' you are agreeing to our terms of use & giving us expressed written consent to contact you.

Questions? Comments? Complaints?

This message will go directly to the head of our team.

Location & Address

Keller Williams Realty Metropolitan
44 Whippany Road
Morristown, NJ