This Autonomous Humanoid Robot Can Shadow-Box But It’s Kung Fu Is Weak

In a Stanford lab, researchers have developed an autonomous humanoid robot, dubbed HumanPlus, capable of learning and performing human tasks. This innovative project involved taking a Unitree H1 humanoid robot, modifying it, and using a webcam to train it to mimic human movements, thereby enabling it to autonomously carry out various tasks. The team, composed of Zipeng Fu, Qingqing Zhao, and Qi Wu, has created a full-stack system that allows the robot to learn from humans by first copying their actions.

HumanPlus utilizes a low-level policy trained in simulation via reinforcement learning using existing 40-hour human motion datasets. This policy transfers to the real world, enabling the humanoid robot to shadow human body and hand movements in real-time using only an RGB camera. This shadowing technique allows the robot to imitate tasks such as folding laundry, unloading objects from warehouse racks, and performing diverse locomotion skills like squatting, jumping, and standing. The robot can even greet another robot.

The HumanPlus website showcases numerous video examples of the robot’s capabilities, including playing the piano, ping pong, jumping, typing, and even greeting a fellow robot with a handshake. Despite its slow, awkward, and clunky performance, HumanPlus is available for purchase at the low price of $90,000. The Stanford researchers have enhanced their model, adding hands from Inspire-Robots, wrists from Robotis, and Razer webcams for eyes, increasing the total cost to about $107,945 and giving the robot 33 degrees of freedom.

The code used to create HumanPlus is open-source on GitHub, allowing those with technical know-how and financial resources to train their own 5’11 (180 cm), 104 lb (47 kg) robotic servant. The H1 even holds the world record for speed, able to run at 7.4 mph (11.9 kph) and perform backflips. Although it may not excel as a boxer, HumanPlus represents a significant step forward in humanoid robot technology.

While still in its infancy and appearing wobbly, humanoid robot tech shows promise. As companies continue to invest in this field, the capabilities of humanoid robots like HumanPlus are expected to improve dramatically, potentially revolutionizing the way we approach human labor.

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