Robotics

Pal Robotics unveils its 3rd gen humanoid robot

Pal Robotics unveils its 3rd g...
REEM-C takes its first steps inside PAL Robotics' headquarters
REEM-C takes its first steps inside PAL Robotics' headquarters
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PAL Robotics REEM-A took just one year to develop and build, appearing in 2005
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PAL Robotics REEM-A took just one year to develop and build, appearing in 2005
REEM-A was able to walk and could recognize faces and objects
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REEM-A was able to walk and could recognize faces and objects
Using its simple gripper hand, REEM-A was able to grasp objects
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Using its simple gripper hand, REEM-A was able to grasp objects
REEM-A plays chess
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REEM-A plays chess
REEM-B followed in 2008
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REEM-B followed in 2008
REEM-B was able to hold up to 12 kg (26 lb), making it one of the strongest humanoid robots ever built
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REEM-B was able to hold up to 12 kg (26 lb), making it one of the strongest humanoid robots ever built
REEM-B's batteries would last up to 2 hours, or about double the operating time of Honda's ASIMO
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REEM-B's batteries would last up to 2 hours, or about double the operating time of Honda's ASIMO
REEM-B has laser range finders on the top of its feet, which were used to map and navigate its environment
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REEM-B has laser range finders on the top of its feet, which were used to map and navigate its environment
REEM-B was flexible enough to sit in a standard chair
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REEM-B was flexible enough to sit in a standard chair
In 2010, PAL Robotics developed a service robot that moved on wheels called REEM-H1
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In 2010, PAL Robotics developed a service robot that moved on wheels called REEM-H1
REEM-H1 was a prototype that would later be replaced by a more attractive version
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REEM-H1 was a prototype that would later be replaced by a more attractive version
REEM-H1 sort of looked like Sir Patrick Stewart, possibly because the robots are funded by a wealthy Star Trek fan
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REEM-H1 sort of looked like Sir Patrick Stewart, possibly because the robots are funded by a wealthy Star Trek fan
REEM-H1 interacts with people
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REEM-H1 interacts with people
PAL Robotics quickly built a second version of its service robot simply called REEM
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PAL Robotics quickly built a second version of its service robot simply called REEM
REEM demonstrates its functions in the United Arab Emirates
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REEM demonstrates its functions in the United Arab Emirates
REEM was designed to roam around shopping malls, airports, and other busy places
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REEM was designed to roam around shopping malls, airports, and other busy places
REEM could carry bags on the back of its wheeled base
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REEM could carry bags on the back of its wheeled base
PAL Robotics unveiled REEM-C in late 2013
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PAL Robotics unveiled REEM-C in late 2013
REEM-C's design is modular, allowing for some degree of customization
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REEM-C's design is modular, allowing for some degree of customization
REEM-C's feet contain laser range finders which help it map and navigate inside buildings
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REEM-C's feet contain laser range finders which help it map and navigate inside buildings
REEM-C walks a little on the slow side, at just 28 cm per second (1 ft per second)
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REEM-C walks a little on the slow side, at just 28 cm per second (1 ft per second)
REEM-C takes its first steps inside PAL Robotics' headquarters
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REEM-C takes its first steps inside PAL Robotics' headquarters
REEM-C is PAL Robotics' first commercial biped robot
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REEM-C is PAL Robotics' first commercial biped robot
REEM-C features stereo cameras in its head, as well as one rear-facing camera on its back
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REEM-C features stereo cameras in its head, as well as one rear-facing camera on its back
REEM-C is ideal for university labs looking to work on complex robotics problems
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REEM-C is ideal for university labs looking to work on complex robotics problems
REEM-C features 44 degrees of freedom and can operate for up to 3 hours on its 44 V Li-Ion battery
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REEM-C features 44 degrees of freedom and can operate for up to 3 hours on its 44 V Li-Ion battery
REEM-C can be considered one of the most advanced humanoid robots designed and built in Europe
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REEM-C can be considered one of the most advanced humanoid robots designed and built in Europe
REEM-C looks out onto the world from PAL Robotics' headquarters in Barcelona, Spain
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REEM-C looks out onto the world from PAL Robotics' headquarters in Barcelona, Spain

The United Arab Emirates, known for its lavish building projects like the Burj Khalifa, is also financing an equally ambitious robot project. PAL Robotics, based in Barcelona, Spain, was contracted to build a robot that could stand next to the likes of Honda's ASIMO. Now, after nearly a decade, the company has unveiled its third generation humanoid robot.

Named after an island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the REEM robots have been in development since 2004, and it's all thanks to one wealthy science fiction fan. "It's owned by the United Arab Emirates royal family," explains Professor Noel Sharkey, professor of Robotics and Artifical Intelligence at the University of Sheffield, in an interview with robotsandavatars.net. "The young prince is a big Star Trek fan, and so he spent a few million pounds getting all these really good engineers to build this robot for him."

REEM over the years

REEM-A, which looked a little like a storm trooper crossed with C-3PO, took just one year to build. By 2006, it had been programmed to walk and play chess, and it could recognize faces, objects, and verbal commands. In 2007, it placed second in RoboCup soccer's Adult Size league, which involved one-on-one penalty kicks. That same year at Wired NextFest, it one-upped robots like KAIST's HUBO and Honda's ASIMO (which were limited to pre-rehearsed stage shows) by walking around freely amongst the show's visitors.

By 2008, the team's second generation robot, REEM-B, took its first steps. This version of the robot was able to carry up to 12 kg (26 lb), which made it the strongest bipedal humanoid robot at that time. One of REEM-B's more unusual design features included laser range finders on its feet, which could generate maps of its surroundings as it walked. And it was capable of operating for up to 2 hours on its internal batteries, about double the running time of Honda's ASIMO.

REEM-B was able to hold up to 12 kg (26 lb), making it one of the strongest humanoid robots ever built
REEM-B was able to hold up to 12 kg (26 lb), making it one of the strongest humanoid robots ever built

However, REEM-B still lagged behind Honda's robot in some respects, since ASIMO was able to walk faster and even run. Tempting as it might be, making direct comparisons between the two isn't really fair, as Honda's robotics budget is more than ten times that of the REEM robots. And besides, REEM-B was built in less than half the time of Honda's first complete humanoid prototype.

In 2010, the company debuted the first commercial version of the robot simply titled REEM, which it designed to roam around malls, airports, and other busy places where it would interact with the public. Keeping speed and safety in mind, it scoots around on wheels rather than legs, and can carry your bags in its luggage compartment. A large touch screen in its chest can show you maps or the latest sales.

In October of that year, PAL Robotics held a contest to gather design ideas for its next generation humanoid. I decided to enter, and though I ended up winning the contest, my design wasn't used (if you're curious, you can see what it looked like here). Since then I've been excited to see how REEM-C would turn out, and it looks like they decided to maintain consistency with their service robot. This allowed them to reuse components, such as the arms, hands, and other parts which have been grandfathered into the design of REEM-C.

Meet REEM-C

Unlike its earlier bipeds, which were never mass produced or sold, PAL Robotics' third generation robot is available to purchase for use as a research platform. It follows a similar trajectory as KAIST's HUBO robots, which are now being sold to universities around the globe for hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece. According to PAL Robotics, REEM-C is ideal for exploring all sorts of robotics problems including walking, grasping, navigation, whole body control, human-robot interaction, and more.

REEM-C stands 165 cm tall (5 ft 4 in) tall and weighs 70 kg (154 lb), and has a total of 44 degrees of freedom. It walks at a maximum speed of just 28 cm/sec (about 1 ft per second), which is on the slow side, but because it's brand new that is likely to improve with further development.

REEM-C can be considered one of the most advanced humanoid robots designed and built in Europe
REEM-C can be considered one of the most advanced humanoid robots designed and built in Europe

It has a modular design, which gives some flexibility to parts, but comes equipped with two internal computers as well as stereo cameras, microphones, speakers, and other sensors (including laser range finders on its feet) as standard. Powered by a 48 V Lithium-Ion battery, it can perform for up to 3 hours with frequent movement or 6 hours on stand-by, and takes about 5 hours to fully charge (which is slightly better than its competition).

It's difficult to judge its value against similar humanoid research platforms without knowing how much it costs, and unfortunately PAL Robotics has not gotten back to me about that. However, I would expect it be somewhere in the range of AIST's HRP-4 (US$300k), the working counterpart to this android, and KAIST's HUBO 2 ($400k). Obviously it's not something your average Joe can afford, but prestigious universities (and royalty) may find it ticks all the boxes.

You can see REEM-C taking its first steps in the video below.

Source: PAL Robotics

REEM-C - Step into the Future

5 comments
Stradric
If the creators of that video were trying to highly how creepy this robot is, they succeeded brilliantly. Asimo at least waves at people and doesn't try to have a human face at all. This thing walks like a psychopath killer and then stares blankly out the window -- surely plotting the destruction of its human masters.
Keith Reeder
Does kinda move like it's sneaking up on its victim!
Snake Oil Baron
Give it knives--no, swords. Switch the window for a balcony. Teach it to make inflammatory speeches.
NickHeidl
Next step is to get it to plug itself in to recharge
Ed Weibe
needs task presets.