http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/322909

Robot created with real muscles to help scientists study humans

Posted Apr 14, 2012 by Elizabeth Cunningham Perkins
The expectation that robots and humans will interact closely is common, but predictions about how robots and people will relate and experiments testing the shapes future bots might take continue to proliferate. Will mechanical helpers look like ECCERobot?
The ECCERobot project team met in Zurich in late February 2012 accompanied by their Embodied in Cogn...
EFT Robotics
The ECCERobot project team met in Zurich in late February 2012 accompanied by their Embodied in Cognition Compliantly Engineered Robots.
A profile by Fast Company of the ECCERobot project showed an advanced example of one line of envisioning in the technological field of robotics: researching and developing humanoid robots, with human-like skeletal systems of muscles and bones fashioned from plastic and other synthetic materials, all connected and operated by strings or other mechanisms to mimic human bodily movements, and even to imitate human limitations and frailties.
Lacking skin and other connective tissues at this stage, ECCERobot was designed by artificial consciousness researcher Owen Holland of the University of Bristol and collaborators with the ETF Robotics group at the University of Belgrade, then built by The Robot Studio, a company that supplies biomimetic robot hardware to scientists and entertainers alike. This ugly, ungainly robot was expected to generate human screams -- not hugs -- during first encounters.
But ECCERobot's team of creators discovered most humans introduced to the grotesque, complicated machine found it surprisingly appealing, and they speculated this happened because people sensed many similarities to themselves, despite glaring differences (such as its lack of legs), and felt an uncanny sense of kinship that allowed them to relax around the bot, Fast Company reported.
Holland explained to Fast Company's Co.Design blogger that imperfections were built into ECCERobot on purpose because flexible "human softness" will make the machine safer and more durable:
“This way of building robots doesn’t just produce a robot that moves like a human, but it also produces a robot that is safe for humans to interact with, because the elasticity of the 'muscles’ and 'tendons’ makes it compliant and soft, unlike conventionally engineered robots. We believe that this factor alone means that future robots will be more like ECCERobot than the current generation of hard, stiff metallic robots.”
Recently Digital Journal and ScienceDaily have reported many related news stories about the ongoing research of separate teams of scientists and technologists worldwide attempting to reproduce or replace human and animal movements with capable robots in a wide array of projects aimed at diverse purposes, from developing medical treatments to understanding natural phenomena to accomplishing dangerous or difficult tasks.