Japanese robot could replace your moving company, shoves like a human

In a robot, strength is important, but sometimes it's more important how the strength is directed. If you've ever had to move a refrigerator, you know that the best course of action involves pushing or pulling the object instead of lifting up, directly. The latest human-like robot developed by the University of Tokyo's JSK Laboratory takes that logic and expands on it, pushing, pulling, and scooting washing machine and large objects. The robot uses impressive posture and crouches, bracing itself so well that if it were human, it would be protecting its back from lifting strain.

Researchers Masayuki Inaba and Kei Okada programmed the robot, an HRP-2 model, to approach each large object with a set of motions like pushing with it shoulders, forearms, or with its back against the object. Just like a human, the robot automatically cycles through the motions until it finds a successful way to move the object.

The robot finds an appropriate moving posture by analyzing the object's weight, dimensions, and friction against the ground surface. The robot's first attempts are always lower force manipulations, and as it tries again, each attempt increases in force. The robot also is quite stable on its feet. It is programmed to adjust its footsteps to be shorter or longer based on how far it is able to move the object.

Check out the robot move various, large objects with surprisingly human-like motion in the video, below.

The researchers presented their findings on "Whole-Body Pushing Manipulation With Contact Posture Planning of Large and Heavy Object for Humanoid Robot," at IEEE's annual ICRA conference last week.

Source: IEEE Spectrum