Futuristic Hardware for Intelligent Robots

What advances in hardware do we need to build intelligent robots of the future?

This is the second of a series on the challenges and opportunities of applying AI to robotics, specifically in the setting of autonomous service robots that can assist humans in everyday tasks. See the overview here.

This editorial highlights state-of-the-art robot hardware designs and discusses what new hardware we need to build. Advances in sensors, actuators, compute, and batteries are all needed to develop truly autonomous and useful assistive robots. We will discuss sensors and actuators in this edition and save compute and batteries for a future post.

TL;DR: Intelligent robots need robust and multi-modal sensors to understand the world and powerful, precise, and compliant actuators to act on the world. For sensors, AI has been widely applied to better understand complex sensor signals. For actuators, mobile bases are a lot more mature than robot arms and hands. The most difficult and promising future robot hardware developments are in building advanced artificial skins and general-purpose human-level hands.

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