On the occasion of the Italian Month of Science (September 4 – October 1, 2013), on September 18, the Italian Cultural Institute (IIC) in Los Angeles hosted a presentation of iCub, a humanoid robot created by Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) of Genoa, Italy. Professor Giorgio Metta, who has been coordinating the project for years, came directly from IIT with a group of collaborators for a unique demonstration of the robot’s abilities.
The iCub is one of the few (if not the only one) humanoid robots with a full body skin system made of several thousand miniature pressure sensors. At 104 cm tall, it has the size of a three and half year old child. iCub can see the world, recognize objects, detect the presence of a person, react to simple spoken commands or to physical contact with people. It can grasp objects and perform a few manipulative actions like move, take, turn, etc.
A big crowd welcomed by the IIC director Alberto Di Mauro, showed up at the Istiotuto for this special presentation organized by the Consulate General of Italy and the Italian Cultural Institute in Los Angeles, the Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation (ISSNAF) and IIT. Among the numerous guests there were the Consul General of Italy, Giuseppe Perrone, some representatives of the Italian Trade Commission, as well as many scientists and scholars, including Prof. Vito Campese, President of ISthe Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation.
Due to the particular curiosity about the robot, a demo for children was also arranged.
The iCub is distributed as Open Source following the GPL/FDL licenses and can now count on a worldwide community of enthusiastic developers. The project has the goal of investigating the creation of human-like intelligent machines in the physical form of humanoid robots.
The project has now an almost ten-year long history; it started in 2004 thanks to a consistent EU sponsorship and subsequently evolved into a truly international effort. It is the result of the work of Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT) departments in collaboration with external institutions, namely RBCS (Robotics, Brain and Cognitive Sciences Dept.), ADVR (Advanced Robotics Dept.), through important collaborations in the domain of machine learning (IIT@MIT laboratory), and with EPFL (Lausanne), INSERM (Lyon), UPMC (Paris), TUM (Munich), Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona), IST (Lisbon) to name a few.
iCub has reached considerable success; at the moment about 25 robots are available in various laboratories mainly in Europe but also in US, Japan and soon in Korea.
More information on the iCub project at www.icub.org