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U.S. and Korean Researchers Unveil Newest Research Team Member: Jaemi the Humanoid
- Project aims to enable humanoids to interact with people and their environment June 1, 2009-- A Drexel University-led research team late last week unveiled the newest, most central member of its collaboration with a team of Korean researchers: Jaemi, a humanoid (HUBO). Jaemi HUBO embodies efforts to advance humanoid development and enhance the concept of human-robotic interaction. The project"s goal is to enable humanoids to interact with their environment, and enhancement plans include enabling the humanoid to move over rugged terrain, in unstructured environments and to interact socially with humans and handle objects. The five-year project, funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) program, seeks transformative models to catalyze discovery through international research collaboration and train U.S. students and junior researchers to effectively think and work in global teams. "The field of robotics is among the top 10 technology areas considered engines for economic growth. Korea understands this and is aggressively pursuing robotics. To stay competitive, the U.S. must do the same," said Mark Suskin, acting deputy director of NSF"s Office of International Science and Engineering. "NSF"s PIRE program and this robotics collaboration in particular, enable the U.S. to capitalize on research in other countries and remain competitive." The PIRE research team is composed of researchers at The University of Pennsylvania, Colby College, Bryn Mawr College and Virginia Tech in the United States; and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Korea University and Seoul National University in Korea. The team obtained a version of KAIST"s HUBO humanoid, which it named Jaemi HUBO and decided to house it at Drexel University. KAIST HUBO lab has become a model of cutting advance humanoid research by relatively small teams working on tight budgets. KAIST excels in humanoid leg and body design, biped gait (walking, running, kicking), balance (modeling and control system design), and hardware integration. U.S. robotics researchers tend to enjoy an edge in locomotion over rugged, unstructured terrain; manipulation/grasping; cognition, perception and human-robot interaction; and vision (image, understanding, navigation). This collaboration of American and Korean researchers will seek to draw on the expertise of each researcher and take Jaemi HUBO to the next level of development--that is, to improve Jaemi"s capabilities to navigate and manipulate objects and interact with people in unstructured environments. Such capabilities demand information technologies like cognition, perception and networking areas. Targeted enhancement features include a capability to move over rugged terrain and in unstructured environments and to handle objects and interact socially with humans. Jaemi HUBO will also educate the American public, particularly young people, about the science of robotics. This education process began at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia on May 28, 2009, when Jaemi HUBO was unveiled and introduced to a crowded audience of children and a few adults. Neither male nor female,Jaemi connected with the children, boys and girls alike. Guided by a Drexel University graduate student, Jamei moved, spoke, danced, shook hands and lead the children in a game of Simon Says. Such access to Jaemi HUBO starkly contrasts with that afforded by other high-profile humanoids that are often protected trade secrets, largely inaccessible to the public. Museum curators are pleased to have had Jaemi visit and entertain kids during the weekend. "At the Please Touch Museum, we promote learning through a variety of senses," said J. Willard Whitson,the museum"s vice president for exhibits and education. "A humanoid not only embodies our goal of building layers of knowledge in young people, but Jaemi helps all of us celebrate the playful side of technology." Jaemi HUBO is now at its permanent home at Drexel University, from which travel and guest appearances may be arranged by appointment. Journalists interested in meeting and interviewing Jaemi HUBO and other research team members are encouraged to contact Lisa-Joy Zgorski at email@example.com. (Press Release of U.S. National Science Foundation)
KAIST Collaborating with U.S. Universities to Advance Humanoid Robotics
Hubo, a life-size walking bipedal humanoid robot, is perhaps the best-known character in Korea that KAIST has ever produced. It was shown to the government heads of the Asia-Pacific region during the APEC held in Busan, Korea, in 2005 and appeared at the hit concerts of the pop singer Jang-Hoon Kim. The humanoid robot is soon likely to catch the fancy of Americans as a U.S. government-funded project seeks to create a Hubo that can work and interact with people in collaboration with Korean scientists. "We are going to give the brains to Hubo. (Japanese) Asimo can do only pre-programmed actions. We want to create a Hubo that can help people, interact with people," said Prof. Paul Oh of the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics at Drexel University in Philadelphia and leader of the five-year international project which was launched in November 2007. The U.S.$2.5 million project is funded through the Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) of the United States. It brings together world-renowned experts in humanoid design and information technologies. "Dr. Jun-Ho Oh"s lab at KAIST (that has created Hubo) is the world"s leader in humanoid design and the U.S. has advanced technologies in the areas such as artificial intelligence, mechanical learning and robot vision. Combining the strengths of the two countries can create a synergy effect and develop a more advanced humanoid robot," said Paul Oh. He is currently serving as Program Director of Robotics of the NSF which is overseeing robotics research (non-military) in the U.S. consisting over 150 robotics faculty. Paul Oh"s research team consists of experts from five U.S. universities -- Drexel, Bryn Mawr College, Colby College, the University of Pennsylvania and Virginia Tech -- and KAIST. Leading a delegation of six professors and eight students, Dr. Paul Oh made a two-day visit to KAIST on Nov. 18-19 to review the progress of the project and have a technical meeting with participants. "The U.S. universities participating in this program are scattered across the nation. So we decided to have a technical meeting here in Korea," he said. Asked the reason why he chose KAIST as a partner for the program, Dr. Oh said that KAIST is willing to open Hugo to international researchers, whereas in Japan only Honda engineers are allowed to touch Asimo, which is a humanoid robot created by Honda Motor Company. The project is to establish no barrier for roboticists anywhere in the world to pursue the humanoid research; a suite of humanoid platforms will be available for researchers to develop and advance capabilities like locomotion and human-robot interaction. The team has been initially involved in development of three tools, all of which are based on the Hubo platform, in order to kick-start humanoid research in the U.S. They are the Mini-Hubo (a small, light-weight and affordable humanoid purchasable at the price lower than $8,000), On-Line Hubo (a program to operate Hubo online) and Virtual Hubo (a simulation program to do researches in cyberspace). As the first outcome of the project, the Mini-Hubo is expected to be released in the U.S. around next April. Another important purpose of the PIRE program is to seek transformative models to train scientists and engineers to effectively work in global multi-disciplined design teams. To this end, an aggregate number of 20 students from U.S. universities are to stay at the KAIST during the next five years, with two students taking turns on a six-month term. "I was really amazed how much work is done with small funding here. This is really an excellent example to learn," said Roy Gross, an undergraduate from Drexel who has been staying at Prof. Oh"s Lab for the past three months.
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