DIY robot can mimic and replicate your actions in just 40 hours

DIY robot can mimic and replicate your actions in just 40 hours

June 28, 2024
Researchers have engineered a robot that, once shown a desired movement, will mimic and learn how to perform the action itself. It’s equal parts ingenious and creepy.

Have you ever thought about cloning yourself? Just imagine how much work you could get done, how many chores and household tasks you could complete, if only you had a team of clones that could reproduce your actions. While cloning technology isn’t there yet, you might be able to accomplish the same feat with robots. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I’m not a roboticist. I don’t have the skills to program a robot to replicate my every move.” Turns out, you might not have to. Researchers have engineered a robot that, once shown a desired movement, will mimic and learn how to perform the action itself. It’s equal parts ingenious and creepy.

A team of researchers at Stanford University have engineered and constructed the HumanPlus robot, which is designed to shadow the movements of humans. The team, which consists of Zipeng Fu, Qingqing Zhao, Qi Wu, Gordon Wetzstein, and Chelsea Finn, documented their journey in a recently published paper titled “HumanPlus: Humanoid Shadowing and Imitation from Humans.”

According to the team, they used 40-hour human motion datasets to teach the robot how to perform an array of activities that includes playing ping pong, boxing, typing on a keyboard, playing the piano, and more. 

In an excerpt from the paper, the team writes: “This policy transfers to the real world and allows humanoid robots to follow human body and hand motion in real time using only a RGB camera, i.e. shadowing. Through shadowing, human operators can teleoperate humanoids to collect whole-body data for learning different tasks in the real world.”

But the HumanPlus robot does more than just mimic human movements. It can actually learn the movements. According to the team, “Using the data collected, we then perform supervised behavior cloning to train skill policies using egocentric vision, allowing humanoids to complete different tasks autonomously by imitating human skills. We demonstrate the system on our customized 33-DoF 180cm humanoid, autonomously completing tasks such as wearing a shoe to stand up and walk, unloading objects from warehouse racks, folding a sweatshirt, rearranging objects, typing, and greeting another robot with 60-100% success rates using up to 40 demonstrations.”

If you think that a HumanPlus robot would be right for you, then you’re in luck. The research team has released all of their data on GitHub, including the datasets and codes used to train the robot. The team even provides a bill of materials, which shows that HumanPlus utilizes a Unitree H1 humanoid robot as the base with Inspire-Robots RH56DFX for hands. Sure, you’ll have to invest in some camera equipment and 3D print a few parts, but it’s worth it to be part of robotics history. And for the low, low price of $107,945.41 in materials (not to mention the cost of the robotics/engineering degree), you too can be the proud owner of a HumanPlus robot.

In a recent Inverse article, author Jackson Chen wrote: “The HumanPlus’ design is open source, so nothing is stopping you from adjusting the it as you see fit, so long as you have the technical know-how to do so. One of the researchers, Zipeng Fu, noted that the hardware required to remote control the HumanPlus only costs $50, which is much cheaper compared to the more popular option of using a Meta Quest headset.”

The Lighter Side of Manufacturing

Created by the editors of Plant Services and New Equipment Digest, The Lighter Side of Manufacturing is a feel-good blog that showcases how advances in science, math, engineering, and technology are making our world more whimsical. Here’s another post that is guaranteed to brighten your day.

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About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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