This girl is the test bed for future space robot technologies.
AILA has a feminine figure, a modern hairstyle and large, dark eyes, reminiscent of an anime character. She is also a robot. Markedly different to Robonaut 2, NASA’s broad-shouldered space robot, together they may usher in a new era of space exploration, with humans and robots working together more than ever before.
AILA is the work of the Robotics Innovation Center at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence as well as the Robotics Group at the University of Bremen. The German Aerospace Center has committed to an investment of $4.59 million U.S. dollars to the improvement of the software brains in AILA and robots like her.
In testing, AILA has been controlled using a specialised mouse as well as Microsoft’s Kinect Xbox controlling technology. She can mimic a human’s arm and hand movements and learn to push buttons or flick switches. Her software learned the motions by recording a human’s motion, breaking the motions down into smaller segments, then piecing the segments together to form new complex motions. These behaviours are added to a database that can be recalled whenever the robot is called upon to perform a new motion.
This learning model is obviously not limited to humanoid robots. It could be applied to spider robots or other forms, for any number of learned behaviours.
The “Behaviours for Mobile Manipulation” project is expected to continue for four years. The plan is to develop the brains for the next generation of humanoid space-bots that may join Robonaut 2 aboard the space station, or even the moon or Mars.
The question on many lips may well be “why make her female?” A possible answer to this may be “why not?” While on the inside AILA is the same as a “male” robot, it could be that the robot workforce one day will have the same diversity as the human workforce does.