Tue. Nov 28th, 2023
    New Insights on the Performance of Humanoid Robots

    In the realm of science fiction, we often encounter humanoid robots that possess near-perfect capabilities, surpassing human potential in many ways. But what is the reality when it comes to the performance of humanoid robots in our world today? A ground-breaking study conducted by Robert Riener, a professor at ETH Zurich and founder of the Cybathlon, seeks to answer this question and explore the true potential of humanoid robots.

    In order to establish a meaningful comparison between humans and machines, Riener and his team had to develop specific criteria. They excluded industrial robots that excel in specific tasks such as painting car bodies on production lines, as these robots are not designed to function outside their specialized environments. Instead, the focus of the study was on humanoid robots that closely resemble humans anatomically.

    To further narrow down the selection, the researchers established additional criteria. Only robots with two or four legs were considered, allowing them to climb steps. They needed to have a slim figure to fit through doors, a minimum height of 50 cm, and arms and hands capable of picking up objects. Additionally, the chosen robots had to be quiet, emission-free, and suitable for human collaboration.

    The initial findings of the study revealed an interesting trend. When comparing individual components such as microphones, cameras, and drive systems to their human counterparts, the technical components consistently outperformed humans in terms of sensory-motor properties. For example, carbon fibers used in robots are stronger than human bones. However, this technical superiority has not yet translated into humanoid robots with better movement and perception capabilities than humans.

    Furthermore, when it comes to activities performed by humans and robots, humans still maintain the upper hand. While humanoid robots can walk and run, their speed, energy consumption, and endurance are generally inferior to humans. Even though some robots can achieve impressive speeds, they do so at a high energy cost and are often limited to controlled laboratory settings.

    This study sheds light on the potential and limitations of humanoid robots, highlighting the areas where humans still excel. While robots possess precision in specific functions, such as balancing, they are unable to match the overall performance, endurance, and adaptability of humans. It remains a challenge to bridge the gap between technical superiority and the complexity of human capabilities.


    Q: What was the main focus of the study?

    The study aimed to compare the performance of humanoid robots with that of humans and determine their strengths and limitations.

    Q: What criteria were used to select the robots?

    The selected robots needed to have two or four legs, be capable of climbing steps, fit through doors, reach a minimum height of 50 cm, have arms and hands for object manipulation, and be quiet and emission-free for human collaboration.

    Q: How did the technical components of robots compare to humans?

    The technical components of robots, such as microphones, cameras, and drive systems, consistently outperformed their human counterparts in terms of sensory-motor properties.

    Q: What advantages do humans have over robots?

    Humans generally outperform robots in activities related to speed, endurance, and adaptability. While robots may excel in specific functions, humans possess a greater overall performance.

    Q: What is the challenge in creating robots with superior movement and perception abilities?

    Despite the technical superiority of individual components, there is still a gap between the capabilities of robots and the complexity of human movement and perception. Integrating these components into a robot that outperforms humans remains a challenge.