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Headless Kenshiro muscle-bot gets ripped at the gym

Kenshiro, born at the University of Tokyo, represents the latest attempt to create a musculoskeletal machine that moves like a human. Who needs a head?

Kenshiro: It better wipe down the bench when it's done.
University of Tokyo

Is a robot with muscles and bones any more freaky than one with servomotors?

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have been building a humanoid robot called Kenshiro that moves around with muscles that work with small pulleys.

Initially developed as a scrawny kid-bot in 2001, Kenshiro has been packing on muscle mass. With a total of 70 degrees of freedom, or axes of motion, it now has 160 muscles, with 22 in its neck, 12 in its shoulders, 76 in its abdomen, and 50 in its legs.

But it's still designed to mimic the body of a 12-year-old Japanese male, standing 5 feet and 2 inches and weighing 110 pounds. It also has a human-like ribcage, pelvis, and spine made of aluminum.

Kenshiro is an improvement over its predecessors Kojiro and Kenzoh, and its joints can now produce nearly the same amount of torque as human joints. Check it out doing exercises in the vid below.

The university's Yuto Nakanishi and colleagues have been working on these musculoskeletal humanoids for more than 10 years.

They've made progress toward a goal they outlined in 2010: "Many humanoids have been developed, but more complicated and flexible humanoids must be developed in order to realize more natural and various motions like humans."

Kenshiro could certainly put Honda's humanoid robot Asimo to shame with its flexibility. Of course, a head would make it more like a human.

As long as it doesn't use that head too much.

(Via IEEE Spectrum)