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Top 6 examples of humanoid robots

Humanoids are a blend of AI and robotics. Meet top contenders, including Sophia, Atlas, Ameca, Geminoid DK, Nadine and Pepper, and explore their remarkable features.

Humanoids are a fusion of AI and robotics. They typically have a body structure similar to humans, often sport skin and eyes, and are equipped with sensors and cameras to recognize human faces, respond to voice commands and engage in conversations.

Also embedded with the technology to mimic human traits, humanoids can learn and adapt in real time. The most recent versions of these robots may even exhibit a wide spectrum of human emotions and move and talk like people.

Besides captivating human imagination, these anthropomorphic creations also serve as groundbreaking tools across various industries. According to a Goldman Sachs report, the global market for humanoid robots could reach $38 billion by 2035, underscoring their importance across numerous industries.

Various sources, such as Interesting Engineering, Business Today and Built In, identify the following as the top examples of humanoid robots:

1. Sophia

Sophia is an emotionally intelligent, AI-powered social robot that a team of AI experts and David Hanson of the Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics developed. It was activated on February 14, 2016, and unlike previous models of humanoids, Sophia can imitate human expressions and engage in conversations.

Sophia is a service robot developed to fulfill specific roles such as caring for the elderly, serving customers, engaging with kids and handling crowds at events. Sophia's exceptional natural language processing skills, fueled by AI and neural networks, enable it to maintain eye contact, answer questions, converse and synchronize body language with its voice. Sophia is also skilled at reading the emotions and body language of humans. Sophia has been featured at numerous events and conferences, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2019 and is scheduled to appear at the Global AI Show and Global Blockchain Show in December 2024.

Interesting facts about Sophia: Sophia's look is an ideal fusion of science fiction and historical elegance and was inspired by the Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn, Amanda Hudson (the wife of Hanson) and the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

In 2019, Sophia displayed the ability to create drawings, including portraits. Notably, a non-fungible token (NFT) self-portrait created by Sophia sold for nearly $700,000 at an auction in Hong Kong, China, in 2021.

2. Atlas

Developed by an American robotics design company, Boston Dynamics, and funded by the Defense Advanced Research Project (DARPA), Atlas made its public debut on July 11, 2013. Measuring 5 feet tall and weighing 196 pounds, the first iteration of Atlas relied on a robust and intricate hydraulics system, that enhanced its agility. Capable of backflips and bending down, this robot was designed to undertake hazardous tasks in search and rescue missions. Atlas also aids in real-world applications, such as industrial automation tasks, and mobile manipulation that involve the integration of navigation and interaction with the environment, such as welding, screwing and quality control.

In April 2024, Boston Dynamics revealed intentions to replace the hydraulic Atlas with an electric version to boost its strength and provide a wider range of motion.

Interesting facts about Atlas: The retired hydraulics version of Atlas was the most agile humanoid around. It effortlessly lifted and transported items such as boxes and crates. However, its signature moves were running, jumping and performing backflips.

3. Ameca

Ameca's designer and vendor, Engineered Arts claims that Ameca is the world's most advanced humanoid robot. Originally conceived as a foundation for advancing robotics technologies in human-robot interaction and as a development platform for testing AI and machine learning systems, this humanoid incorporates embedded microphones, binocular eye-mounted cameras, a chest camera and facial recognition software for engaging with the public.

Ameca was developed at Engineered Arts' base in Falmouth, Cornwall, UK, in 2021. It quickly captured the spotlight on X (formerly known as Twitter) and TikTok before its debut demonstration at CES 2022, where it attracted vast coverage from various media outlets.

Interesting facts about Ameca: Since Ameca has cameras in each of its eyes, it can recognize and track faces, identify objects and respond appropriately when a hand is placed in front of its face. It also has humanlike shoulder motions and can extend its hand to the side of its head.

4. Geminoid DK

Geminoid DK is a teleoperated android boasting a metallic skeleton covered in silicone skin and complemented by human and artificial hair. When it debuted in 2011, the world was taken aback by its lifelike appearance and facial expressions.

The Geminoid DK also shares an uncanny resemblance with its creator, the Danish professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University, who collaborated on the project along with Japanese engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro, his team at Advanced Telecommunication Institute International, and Sanrio Group's robot manufacturer Kokoro.

Geminoid DK's goal is to study human-robot interactions, especially how people respond to robotic representations of real humans.

Interesting facts about Geminoid DK: Geminoid-DK can establish eye contact, exhibit various expressions and perform involuntary muscle and breathing movements. It's also the first humanoid robot to sport a beard, which, along with other facial hair, was manually implanted and trimmed using Henrik Scharfe's personal trimmer.

5. Nadine

Nadine is a gynoid social robot, also known as a fembot, that was created in 2013. It was modeled after Professor Nadia Magnenat Thalmann, one of Nadine's creators and a visiting professor at Nanyang Technological University's Institute (NTU). Japanese firm Kokoro developed Nadine's hardware, while Thalmann's team at NTU crafted the software and articulated the robot's hands to achieve natural grasping.

Nadine was designed to interact with humans in social settings, displaying empathy, answering queries and remembering conversations. Nadine is equipped with 3D depth cameras and microphones to ensure seamless operation.

Interesting facts about Nadine: Nadine is full of personality, returns greetings, makes eye contact and interacts with arm movements. It assists individuals with special needs by reading stories and helping with other communication tasks. Additionally, Nadine has served as an office receptionist or a personal coach.

6. Pepper

Pepper was developed by SoftBank Robotics and made its debut in 2014. This advanced and commercially available social humanoid robot stands at approximately 4 feet tall and features a tablet display on its chest for enabling interactions with users.

Pepper was created to serve various functions and industries. For example, it has served as a companion in various settings such as homes, schools, hospitality, healthcare and retail. It is equipped with several cameras, touch sensors and microphones that enable it to engage with humans through speech, touch and emotion recognition.

Interesting facts about Pepper: Pepper's voice can be adjusted depending on preferences. Pepper utilizes tactile sensors in its hands that enable it to perform human actions such as gently picking up and setting down objects. Pepper uses these sensors during activities such as playing games or engaging in social interactions. These sensors are also present in Pepper's head to perceive touch and interactions.

Kinza Yasar is a technical writer for WhatIs with a degree in computer networking.

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