Samsung this week was issued several patents (1, 2, 3, 4) relating to walking robots. The patents describe a walking robot that moves in a natural, human way, and maintains a good posture.
Of course, the robot, which you can see the illustration of above, bears an eerie similarity to Honda’s Asimo. I suppose the point is, though, that Samsung’s robot will walk more naturally than the hop-happy Asimo.
One of the patents, which deals with “pose control” for the robot, describes that it would maintain an upright, erect pose regardless of whether the ground it is standing on is tilted. I imagine this sort of feature would certainly help the robot from falling, but humans aren’t so perfect at maintaining an erect pose without plenty of Yoga. Perhaps Samsung’s robot is intended to be an Irish stepdancer.
Another one of the patents describes how the human-like walk of the robot will be acheived. It will take into account its own stride, velocity, rotation, and direction, and then use that information to map out a way to move through its surroundings. It will also walk using patterns determined from those variables.
The most wacky thing about Samsung’s new patents is that the robot described by them will breathe. Well, simulate breathing, anyway. The patent states that the breathing motion will provide “intimacy and aesthetic stability to users.”
I actually find it incredible that tech companies can patent things of this sort. Even though the technology for such robots hasn’t ever existed until now, the idea for a humanoid automaton has been around since the beginnings of human civilization. I suppose that’s just how the U.S. patent system works now.
In celebration of Samsung’s patents and to set the right tone for the coming weekend, have a look at a video of an old version of Honda’s Asimo seizing-up and falling down some stairs. It’s funny because it can’t feel pain.