A decade ago, robots that looked and acted like humans would have been considered works of science fiction and only existed in books.
Hundreds of humanoid robots exist today, each possessing unique capabilities and functions.
Some of them focus on healthcare assistance, whereas others serve in research and exploration.
According to a report by Markets and Markets, the humanoid robotics market is worth only $1.8 billion now, but it is expected to grow at a staggering 50.3% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) between 2023 and 2028. The humanoid market is quite promising due to the increasing demand for automation in various industries, such as healthcare, retail, and manufacturing.
How do humanoid robots work?
Humanoid robots are designed to mimic human behavior and appearance. They are typically equipped with sensors and actuators that allow them to interact with their environment and perform tasks.
The movement of these robots is enabled by a complex system of motors, gears, and linkages that work together to produce human-like motions.
They are also programmed with complex software that enables them to process information from their sensors and make decisions based on their programming.
In addition to their physical capabilities, many of the humanoid robots are also powered by artificial intelligence, allowing them to learn and adapt to their surroundings over time.
Now that we have clarified how humanoids function, let’s take a look at the top 13 humanoid robots in the world today.
Top 13 Humanoid Robots 2024
Created by Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University and Mixi Corporation, Alter 3 is a humanoid robot with its own AI capable of directing a human orchestra. This mechanical being bears its internal workings through a bare body and features an ageless, genderless face. In 2020, Alter 3 executed a new rendition of the “Android Opera” known as Scary Beauty, composed by Keiichiro Shibuya. The production took place in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.
The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) created ARMAR-6, the advanced humanoid robot designed for industrial environments. This technological assistant is capable of identifying instances where assistance is needed and facilitating secure interaction between humans and robots. The humanoid is capable of performing a wide range of complex maintenance tasks. ARMAR-6 actively explores its surroundings and learns from the feedback it receives. It is also able to communicate with its human partner using natural language.
Apptronik’s Apollo is a bipedal humanoid designed to collaborate with humans. It is specifically engineered to perform tasks that are challenging or unachievable for other types of robots. Standing at a height of 5’8″ (172 cm) and weighing 72 kg, it can use human tools and machinery, facilitating natural interaction with humans. Created for logistical and warehousing purposes, such as transporting boxes, crates, and totes, Apollo possesses versatile capabilities. Apptronik also envisions potential future adaptations for domestic tasks within households.
Ameca by Engineered Arts is considered to be “the world’s most advanced human-shaped robot.” It is programmed to imitate organic movement and facial gestures, but it cannot walk. Equipped with binocular cameras and binaural microphones, Ameca can perceive, listen to, and recognize faces, emotions, and sounds. The purpose of Ameca is to serve as a platform for future robotics technologies. It can engage in conversations in multiple languages, including French and Chinese, and can create poetry and cat illustrations upon request.
In 2013, Boston Dynamics introduced Atlas, a humanoid machine, with financial support from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Deemed to be the most agile humanoid on the planet, Atlas is designed to assist in emergency services and search and rescue missions. It can perform tasks such as controlling valves, accessing entrances, and operating powered machinery in hazardous environments where it is difficult for humans to be present.
Created by Beyond Imagination, Beomni is a humanoid robot with wheels and opposable thumbs. It can perform intricate tasks such as knotting shoelaces and grasping objects. Each appendage of Beomni can lift up to 35 pounds. With its AI intellect continuously learning from human controllers, Beomni is gaining autonomy over time. Beyond Imagination CEO and co-founder Harry Kloor expressed optimism in 2022 that Beomni could revolutionize the quality of care for senior citizens and also take on mundane and hazardous roles in various sectors.
Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China developed Jiajia, China’s first humanoid robot. This innovative creation can engage in conversation, convey emotions through facial expressions, maneuver its body dynamically, and sense where it is placed. Jia Jia looks terrifyingly real and can respond to micro-level movements evoked by facial expressions during bilingual dialogues conducted in Chinese as well as English. She can also learn new skills from the people she interacts with. Jia Jia is the most human-looking humanoid to date.
Nadine, the humanoid social robot, was created by researchers at Singapore and the University of Geneva. She is modeled after Professor Nadia Magnenat Thalmann, the founder of MIRALab at the University of Geneva. She is socially intelligent and possesses the ability to recall conversations and respond in multiple languages. Nadine can discern faces, speech, gestures, and objects.
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Hiroshi Ishiguro’s Erica is the pinnacle of humanoid robots from Japan. She has unparalleled intelligence and fluent speech capabilities. According to her creator, her main priority is to proficiently interact with humans and seamlessly adapt to their expressions. Erica can understand natural language, has a synthesized human-esque voice, and showcases several facial expressions.
RP VITA (Remote Presence Virtual Independent Telemedicine Assistant), developed by iRobot and InTouch Health, is a humanoid designed specifically for healthcare applications. It enables physicians to remotely interact with patients through a telepresence system, integrating with various medical equipment and systems to provide access to tools and information during virtual consultations. This robot has the potential to enhance patient outcomes, improve efficiency, and lower healthcare costs.
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NASA and General Motors collaborated to create the humanoid robot, Robonaut 2 (R2). It was sent to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011 to assist astronauts and thus created history by becoming the first humanoid robot to venture into space. It can perform complex tasks such as grasping objects, operating switches, and interacting with crew members. After its tenure on the ISS, R2 returned to Earth in 2018 for maintenance.
Aldebaran Robotics developed Nao, an autonomous humanoid robot, in 2008. It is considered one of the most comprehensive and programmable robots in its category. Nao can multitask, interact with individuals, and be programmed using various programming languages like Python and C++. Since 2011, more than 200 academic institutions worldwide have been using this robot, including the Indian Institute of Information Technology (Allahabad), the University of Tokyo, the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), the University of South Wales, and Montana State University.
In 2016, Hanson Robotics introduced SOPHIA, the world’s most popular humanoid robot. She made history by becoming the first of her kind to be granted citizenship. With sophisticated artificial intelligence, lifelike facial gestures, and proficient linguistic understanding, Sophia can skillfully navigate intricate discussions and convey sentiments according to the situation. Hanson Robotics revealed that Sophia was designed after Audrey Hepburn.
The Bottom Line
The above-listed 13 humanoids are some of the top human-like robots operating currently. However, according to several reports, tech-advanced countries like China and Japan are planning to mass-produce humanoids in the coming years. We need these advanced robots to carry out hazardous tasks that put human lives in danger, such as disaster response, mining, nuclear plant maintenance, sewage cleaning, etc. They can also aid the human workforce in different industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, and customer service.
Sophia, developed by Hanson Robotics, is said to be the best humanoid robot in the world. She is also the first of her kind to be granted citizenship.
What was the first NASA humanoid robot?
NASA’s first humanoid robot was Robotnaut 2. It went to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011 and became the first human-like robot to go to space.
Humanoid robots operate on a sophisticated combination of artificial intelligence, advanced sensors, and intricate mechanical components.