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Safety Issues Loom as Humanoid Invasion Approaches

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from iRobot

Credit: 20th Century Fox

As robot technology advances, and their use puts them in closer contact with humans, safety has become a top priority for some researchers. "Safe interaction needs a lot more than speech and language processing on the part of the robot," says Bristol Robotics Laboratory's Chris Melhuish. Bristol researchers are developing facial interaction technology that will make it clearer what a human can expect from a robot.

Meanwhile, the pan-European iCub open source humanoid robot project, led by the Italian Institute of Technology's (ITT's) Giorgio Metta, is developing robot skin that can measure contact pressure.

The most dangerous part of a humanoid robot is the legs, says ITT engineer Darwin Caldwell, who is working to make robot legs with less impact energy by using joints with lightweight brushless motor drives, contact sensors, and spring-loaded limbs. "By introducing compliance we could have robots that interact safely for humans and ensure robots don't break themselves," Caldwell says.

From New Scientist
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