<p>If the movie <i>Waterworld</i> comes true, he could be our savior.</p>
If we count off the different activities that humanoid robots can do, we have walking up stairs, dancing, playing ping pong, kicking a football, and plenty more. Most of those just mentioned are performed by just one robot, Honda’s Asimo, who seems to be the go-to bot when looking at humanoid robot capabilities. But while Asmio’s abilities are impressive, if you threw him in a lake he’d just fizzle and sink—as opposed to swim.
That’s where Swumanoid dives in. He’s a swimming humanoid robot, built for research purposes to investigate how unsteady fluid force acts on a swimmer. Those strokes he’s doing in the video using four limbs, just like us, are enabled by 20 waterproof motors. But, as if his aquatic abilities weren’t impressive enough, he was built using 3D printing.
The researchers, Chung Changhyun and Motomu Nakashima at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, 3D scanned a human body and built this into a 1/2 scale model for Swumanoid (swimming + humanoid), which due to his smaller frame is slower in the water than us humans. But while he may be slower he can perform all the strokes we can, from front crawl, butterfly, breaststroke, backstroke, doggy paddling, and treading water.
And, while for the researchers it’s all about using the robot to learn more about the dynamics of swimming, when we see Swumanoid we can’t help but think of a future featuring robot/human mixed Olympics.