LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The future is being assembled piece by piece at UNLV. A human-like robot developed by engineering students is attracting worldwide attention.
In fact, the team just advanced in global competition and was selected as one of 15 across the world to compete next fall. $10 million is on the line.
Meet avatar Hubo. Standing five-feet-five-inches and weighing in at 175 pounds, this robot looks every bit the part of a Hollywood movie. Bu inside the robotics lab at UNLV, the real stars are the ones who’ve dedicated years to this groundbreaking technology.
“So many late nights in this lab. So many weekends. So many days,” said Nicolas Kosanovic, lab researcher in robotics.
“There’s always improvements,” said Dr. Jean Chagas Vass, lead engineer, and team captain. “My ultimate goal is to have, let’s say a firefighter that can embody the robot and perform the same job, but at a safe location.”
It’s all possible with this special haptic suit.
“I am able to feel whatever touch is applied to the robot,” Kosanovic said.
be that a light touch or something with force.
“It varies to the amount of pressure that you decide to put on the robot,” he added.
And a special virtual reality headset allows the wearer to see what Hubo sees.
“Because it uses two cameras, it creates stereographic vision much like our eyes work,” Kosanovic said.
That helps with depth perception which allows for more life-like movement.
“It’s tracking the motion of the arm and then sending that data to the actual arm of the robot,” said Nathan Kassai, lead intubation engineer.
There’s no joystick. There are no cables. Avatar Hubo is unlimited in its movement. Chagas Vaz says the implications for this kind of technology are endless. As for the immediate future, his team will focus on developing Hubo’s fine motor skills.
“Manipulate and move at the same time. That’s a very complicated task for a robot,” Chagas Vaz points out.
And even though you can hug and high-five Hubo and share emotion through the avatar screen, don’t worry robots aren’t taking over the world — yet.
“No, we’re not trying to make the robots conquer the world, but rather we’re trying to improve the way of life,” Chagas Vaz said.
The team said one of the things they’ll have to accomplish for the global competition is walking and holding hands with avatar Hubo.