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Humanoid Robot Musashi: A New Hope for Autonomous Driving

The University of Tokyo has unveiled Musashi, a "musculoskeletal humanoid" equipped to operate a small electric car
June 13, 2024

Could the future of safe autonomous driving lie in a humanoid robot taking the wheel? Researchers at the University of Tokyo believe so. They have developed a "musculoskeletal humanoid" named Musashi, designed to drive a small electric car through a test track, mimicking human actions with remarkable precision.

Equipped with two camera "eyes," Musashi can perceive the road ahead and the side mirror views, mimicking human vision. Its mechanical hands can rotate the car’s key, operate the handbrake, and switch on the turn signal, while its anti-slip "feet" press the accelerator and brake pedals.

The team behind Musashi, including a consultant for Toyota, trained the robot by feeding it raw sensor data to teach it how to use the steering wheel. Impressively, Musashi managed to turn a corner at an intersection while respecting traffic light signals. However, there were some limitations. The robot cautiously lifted its "foot" off the brake pedal rather than tapping the accelerator, making the turn take about two minutes. In a separate experiment, Musashi did use the accelerator but struggled to maintain a consistent speed on varying inclines.

Despite these challenges, the researchers are optimistic and plan to develop an advanced version of Musashi and its software. They are confident that with further refinement, humanoid robots like Musashi could eventually drive vehicles safely and efficiently, potentially revolutionizing urban transportation.

The vision of a robot-driven future is not far-fetched. With continuous advancements, Musashi might one day be steering your taxi through the bustling streets of Tokyo, promising a new era of autonomous driving.

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