Motoman Robot Does It All in Videos

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This Motoman bot is versatile enough for almost any task. Looks like it might start popping and locking, too.

This Motoman bot is versatile enough for almost any task. Looks like it might start popping and locking, too.

Teach a robot to fish and it will fish forever. Give a robot humanoid arms and it will build the fishing pole, catch the fish, gut it, pack it in ice, cook it, and then perform a little dance. The Motoman SDA 10 can do all that and play the drums, thanks to its amazing arms. If you want to be convinced of the Motoman’s versatility and human-like capability, just check out the multitude of videos after the break. Building chairs, cameras, cooking, serving beer…the SDA10 does it all.

How can the SDA 10 accomplish so much? Well it helps that its arms have more joints than a Bob Marley concert. Seven dual-action axes, fifteen degrees of freedom, and a diverse set of hand attachments give this Motoman bot the range of motion needed to emulate a human performing a task. That’s a smart move by the company’s owner, Yaskawa Industries. By building a highly articulate robot, they’ve allowed a single design to fit many different situations. Instead of building a new bot for each task in your factory or office, why not just reprogram the SDA 10? That keeps the cost down, and the robots flying off the shelves.

Just looking at the SDA 10 assemble a chair, I can imagine it working well alongside Kiva’s warehouse robots. Let one bot fetch the parts, the other assemble the chair…it would be a pretty efficient system. Or take the partnership in reverse. Right now, Kiva robots move stacks of goods to humans, who then sort them. The SDA 10, however, is great at sorting and moving. A version of the bot, humorously called the Dextrina (I’ll let you decide if it looks female), is shown below unpacking mail. Flawless execution and there’s little chance of it ever going postal.

While the camera assembly highlights the Motoman robot’s ability to handle delicate objects, I think cooking breakfast is even more impressive. Here we have a video of the SDA 10 whipping up a batch of okonomiyaki, a traditional Japanese morning treat that vaguely resembles a pancake. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to wake up before noon, you can still have another Motoman robot fetch you a beer. Look at it pour with patience. Smooth.


By mimicking, and in many cases excelling, the human arms, Motoman has allowed the SDA 10 to plug into almost any task that humans can perform. It’s a brilliant strategy, so much so that we see in many other robots such as Dr. Robot’s Hawk, and Willow Garage’s PR2. In a world we’ve already designed to fit a two-armed biped, designing humanoid bots makes a lot of sense.

While the SDA 10 is not the most efficient setup for every task, it is one of the most versatile. In the future we may have humanoid robots smart enough that they don’t have to be reprogrammed for every task. Instead, they could learn new ones by observation. When that happens, robots will present an unparalleled tool for completing almost any task. But hey, until that happens, we can still get a kick out of them playing the drums:

Discussion — 38 Responses

  • robot makes music August 27, 2009 on 8:33 pm

    The Motoman’s arms remind me a bit of those modular robots. I suspect the future is going to look very, very strange once these things get fast and small like computers have. Imagine this thing moving with the speed of that FlexPicker robot? We know how fast machines can assemble stuff, we see it on “How It’s Made” and similar – robots will catch up, after all, our modern machinery was once as slow as they.

    You know what I’d really like to see? I Motoman assemble a Motoman.

    Madness.

    • robot makes music robot makes music August 27, 2009 on 8:36 pm

      After that, he’ll twitter his accomplishment to the world. Upon successful tweet, he will add the other Motoman (Unit 2.0) to his twitter account. They will then immediately begin building two new Motomen.

      And it will be glorious.

      • jordan robot makes music August 28, 2009 on 12:03 am

        hahahaha! perfect!

  • robot makes music August 27, 2009 on 4:33 pm

    The Motoman’s arms remind me a bit of those modular robots. I suspect the future is going to look very, very strange once these things get fast and small like computers have. Imagine this thing moving with the speed of that FlexPicker robot? We know how fast machines can assemble stuff, we see it on “How It’s Made” and similar – robots will catch up, after all, our modern machinery was once as slow as they.

    You know what I’d really like to see? I Motoman assemble a Motoman.

    Madness.

    • robot makes music robot makes music August 27, 2009 on 4:36 pm

      After that, he’ll twitter his accomplishment to the world. Upon successful tweet, he will add the other Motoman (Unit 2.0) to his twitter account. They will then immediately begin building two new Motomen.

      And it will be glorious.

      • jordan robot makes music August 27, 2009 on 8:03 pm

        hahahaha! perfect!

  • Darkoneko August 30, 2009 on 4:07 pm

    It’s looking good

    But still, I’m a bit sad they’re limiting themselves to 2 arms just because humans have 2.

    • Melmoth Darkoneko August 30, 2009 on 6:21 pm

      Motosquid?

  • Darkoneko August 30, 2009 on 12:07 pm

    It’s looking good

    But still, I’m a bit sad they’re limiting themselves to 2 arms just because humans have 2.

    • Melmoth Darkoneko August 30, 2009 on 2:21 pm

      Motosquid?

  • Afterthought August 31, 2009 on 4:00 am

    This machine will unemploy all unskilled and semiskilled human workers.

    That has ramifications.

  • Afterthought August 31, 2009 on 12:00 am

    This machine will unemploy all unskilled and semiskilled human workers.

    That has ramifications.

  • kimcares August 31, 2009 on 3:56 pm

    What PRICE progress? I agree -if machines do it-how will people earn money? Then some wonder where conspiracy theories to depopulate the world or new world order come from–wake up people..DON’T BE SHEEPLE!!!!!

    • Gonzobot kimcares September 4, 2009 on 6:28 am

      When robots replace people in the workforce, you won’t HAVE to have a job. That is the point of robots. Why do you think that it is necessary for a person to have a job?

  • kimcares August 31, 2009 on 11:56 am

    What PRICE progress? I agree -if machines do it-how will people earn money? Then some wonder where conspiracy theories to depopulate the world or new world order come from–wake up people..DON’T BE SHEEPLE!!!!!

    • Gonzobot kimcares September 4, 2009 on 2:28 am

      When robots replace people in the workforce, you won’t HAVE to have a job. That is the point of robots. Why do you think that it is necessary for a person to have a job?

  • raelifin August 31, 2009 on 4:40 pm

    This just in:

    “Inventor Eli Whitney makes machine that will put thousands of slaves out of work! Many are worried that slaves will become ‘obsolete’ due to the newfangled machinery.”

  • raelifin August 31, 2009 on 12:40 pm

    This just in:

    “Inventor Eli Whitney makes machine that will put thousands of slaves out of work! Many are worried that slaves will become ‘obsolete’ due to the newfangled machinery.”

  • FredDeRetard August 31, 2009 on 10:33 pm

    I am totally worthless now, I hope all machines will replace all mankind so they can join me on the sidelines waiting for our gruel…

  • FredDeRetard August 31, 2009 on 6:33 pm

    I am totally worthless now, I hope all machines will replace all mankind so they can join me on the sidelines waiting for our gruel…

  • Punky September 2, 2009 on 6:26 pm

    >> You know what I’d really like to see? I Motoman assemble a Motoman.

    How about a FANUC robot assembling FANUC robots… they work 700 hours without intervention.

    http://www.fanuc.co.jp/en/profile/production/factory1.htm

  • Punky September 2, 2009 on 2:26 pm

    >> You know what I’d really like to see? I Motoman assemble a Motoman.

    How about a FANUC robot assembling FANUC robots… they work 700 hours without intervention.

    http://www.fanuc.co.jp/en/profile/production/factory1.htm

  • donald canaday September 3, 2009 on 1:03 am

    this is fancy technology.how about using these robots to use square root signals,using zero’s and one,to heal infirmities,ex. digital picture frame with SD adapter makes the waves.

  • donald canaday September 2, 2009 on 9:03 pm

    this is fancy technology.how about using these robots to use square root signals,using zero’s and one,to heal infirmities,ex. digital picture frame with SD adapter makes the waves.

  • The Guitar God September 3, 2009 on 6:05 pm

    I’m not big on fish… Can I get one that just does the little dance?

  • The Guitar God September 3, 2009 on 2:05 pm

    I’m not big on fish… Can I get one that just does the little dance?

  • Lupin September 4, 2009 on 3:38 pm

    Sorry, but I really don’t see anything special in that. Industrial robots are assembling things for decades already. In the videos above the environment seems always precisely setup, so all moves can be preprogrammed. And the videos stop before moves that need adaptability to a new situation (e.g. after flipping the okonomiyaki). The bove could be done with toys like LEGO Mindstorms…

  • Lupin September 4, 2009 on 11:38 am

    Sorry, but I really don’t see anything special in that. Industrial robots are assembling things for decades already. In the videos above the environment seems always precisely setup, so all moves can be preprogrammed. And the videos stop before moves that need adaptability to a new situation (e.g. after flipping the okonomiyaki). The bove could be done with toys like LEGO Mindstorms…

  • chipferbrains September 4, 2009 on 6:15 pm

    about the soon to be unemployed…suppose we issue exactly one and only one robot to each citizen who has reached the age of majority and say “you can rent it out for farmwork or construction, or factory labour, or just keep it around the house to fetch beer… you CAN’T sell it, but you ARE allowed to profit from it’s labour”…what then? suppose we allow collaboration, for example, a few dozen might decide to combine their robots to build some sort of flying robotic contraption to fight forest fires or to move heavy machinery over permafrost…furthemore, you can rent out your single robot or your agglomeration on the open market yourself, or just trust an agency of your choosing to get you the best deal, or maybe even just do it the old fashioned way and peruse the help wanted ads….what then? Suppose we also let each citizen choose or design the configuration of his own robot, two arms or three, wheels or feet, specialized options for policing or firefighting or brainsurgery (ok, that last one might be a bit optimistic)…what then? But obviously there would have to be some limits…one robot per citizen, even if you try to use it to build some more…and we can’t issue the “Hummer” version to everybody, conspicuous consumption, how would that look? no no, gotta be pc, think of the environment….what then? Guns or Butter?

    • bumpy chipferbrains September 6, 2009 on 7:14 pm

      Who will do the allowing and issuing? None of that is necessary, make the robots and people will buy them and use them. Publish the idea and people will make the robots themselves.

      • chipferbrains bumpy September 7, 2009 on 3:46 am

        YOU DARE SPEAK?!! Well I! yes I have anointed myself Grand Allower and Issuer…And i will dispense my benevolent wisdom only after receiving guidance from my um, uh, appointed court, and of course consulting with departmental chiefs and advisors, not to mention considering all relevant input from the hapless minions for whom I live to serve…hang on a sec, this is beginning to sound a lot like a job, ain’t it? Commitee hearings, banquets, functions, red tape, fundraisers, bureacrats, kissing babies…HEY!! get back here smart ass….publish the idea you say? I can do that?

  • chipferbrains September 4, 2009 on 2:15 pm

    about the soon to be unemployed…suppose we issue exactly one and only one robot to each citizen who has reached the age of majority and say “you can rent it out for farmwork or construction, or factory labour, or just keep it around the house to fetch beer… you CAN’T sell it, but you ARE allowed to profit from it’s labour”…what then? suppose we allow collaboration, for example, a few dozen might decide to combine their robots to build some sort of flying robotic contraption to fight forest fires or to move heavy machinery over permafrost…furthemore, you can rent out your single robot or your agglomeration on the open market yourself, or just trust an agency of your choosing to get you the best deal, or maybe even just do it the old fashioned way and peruse the help wanted ads….what then? Suppose we also let each citizen choose or design the configuration of his own robot, two arms or three, wheels or feet, specialized options for policing or firefighting or brainsurgery (ok, that last one might be a bit optimistic)…what then? But obviously there would have to be some limits…one robot per citizen, even if you try to use it to build some more…and we can’t issue the “Hummer” version to everybody, conspicuous consumption, how would that look? no no, gotta be pc, think of the environment….what then? Guns or Butter?

    • bumpy chipferbrains September 6, 2009 on 3:14 pm

      Who will do the allowing and issuing? None of that is necessary, make the robots and people will buy them and use them. Publish the idea and people will make the robots themselves.

      • chipferbrains bumpy September 6, 2009 on 11:46 pm

        YOU DARE SPEAK?!! Well I! yes I have anointed myself Grand Allower and Issuer…And i will dispense my benevolent wisdom only after receiving guidance from my um, uh, appointed court, and of course consulting with departmental chiefs and advisors, not to mention considering all relevant input from the hapless minions for whom I live to serve…hang on a sec, this is beginning to sound a lot like a job, ain’t it? Commitee hearings, banquets, functions, red tape, fundraisers, bureacrats, kissing babies…HEY!! get back here smart ass….publish the idea you say? I can do that?

  • Garth October 21, 2009 on 10:28 pm

    Off topic correction to the article; Okonomiyaki isn’t a “Japanese morning treat”. Its savory, filled with shrimp, octopus or pork, topped with mayonnaise and served during lunch or dinner.

  • Garth October 21, 2009 on 6:28 pm

    Off topic correction to the article; Okonomiyaki isn’t a “Japanese morning treat”. Its savory, filled with shrimp, octopus or pork, topped with mayonnaise and served during lunch or dinner.

  • Joey1058 June 7, 2010 on 8:43 pm

    The problem with any kind of assembly line types of employment, is that the tech exists to put you out of a job. Including fast food. Has it dawned on anyone that the fast food corps have been dancing with governments already redefining just how much tech they can place in restaurants without being accused of massive layoffs? No, the big news always revolves around national headlines. My job is safe because it would take at least half a dozen bots to do what I do: maintenance.

  • Joey1058 June 7, 2010 on 4:43 pm

    The problem with any kind of assembly line types of employment, is that the tech exists to put you out of a job. Including fast food. Has it dawned on anyone that the fast food corps have been dancing with governments already redefining just how much tech they can place in restaurants without being accused of massive layoffs? No, the big news always revolves around national headlines. My job is safe because it would take at least half a dozen bots to do what I do: maintenance.