The author makes the comment regarding uses for this robot of "think Fukushima". However, the robot is operated by electronics. They would not last long in a highly radioactive location such as Fukushima. It would be nice to be able to use it for something like that instead of exposing people to the radiation, but not very practical.
Isn't the next step too obvious? Haven't you seen the transformers? The ideal robot would be a transformer. One which can transform from humanoid form to vehicle form to go at high speeds, reach it's objective, rescue the people and retrieve them to a safer spot. again in it's vehicle form. with a rescue bed and everything for the illed. Wow... cool!
The robot is shaped in that form because for the tasks that it would be doing that is the most efficient shape. Also, developing the process of achieving the goals is bound to be simpler if those writing the code and developing the moves can imagine a humanly possible set of moves. A different platform would require re-thinking and then arriving from a different point of view.. So the real reason is efficiency in process development. Sorry about the dissillusionment, folks.
Well Bert, I like your spunk! But I don't think we can settle this without a good old fashioned robot fight. Or maybe we should have them compete in a decathlon -- yeah, I'd like to see that!
Until then, I'm gonna stick with my theory that the Pentagon built this very traditional humanoid-style robot for show. Otherwise, I think we'd see it disarming bombs and hunting bad guys in Afghanistan, where the military relies on low-slung, wheeled contraptions for actual field ops. Or we'd see it on Mars, where the Rovers have done a marvelous job of crossing difficult terrain.
But maybe I'll go car shopping this weekend and see if there's a model that will carry me in its arms while trotting along at 80 mph. It would certainly be easier to park if my car could climb trees. ;-)
Aha. So, why did we evolve into upright creatures? My answer would be, because it allows us to manipulate things with our arms and hands, even while we use our legs to move. We don't HAVE to dedicate all four appendages to motion, although of course we can. Other animals, those who aren't so flexible, like cats and dogs, need to use their mouths for things that we and other primates can do with our hands.
But our center of mass can easily be lowered all the way down to the ground, if we crawl low to the ground like soldiers do in training sometimes. Or what about rock climbing? The center of mass gets as close to the cliff as possible, and typically your arms and legs are used just for motion and traction.
Ditto for a robot of this form factor. No need to assume it can only operate by standing upright. If the robot were to be more like a bear, could you have it use its front paws as effectively and flexibly as we can use our arms?