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Humanoids Conference 2014


Humanoids Conference 2014

For one week, the capital of Spain was the world capital of humanoid robots, and was so thanks to the diplomacy of the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), which was able to hold this field’s most important conference in the world. Humanoids 2014 was held from 18 to 20 November. The event gathered nearly 500 scientists and entrepreneurs from more than 30 countries. These people are specialists in the field that produces the most advanced robots in the world.


“Recent editions were held in Atlanta (2013) and Osaka (2012), and doing it now in Madrid is, I think, an achievement for the Spanish robotics community,” said Carlos Balaguer, director of the conference and Professor in the Department of Systems Engineering and Automation at UC3M (in the right upper photo). In this edition, organized by the University under the auspices of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Robotics and Automation Society (IEEE-RAS), there were twice the usual number of speakers and workshops. Also, some of the experts in this field participated, such as the Japanese Masayuki Inaba, from the University of Tokyo, Dr. Alin Albu-Schäffer, director of the Robotics Department at the DLP in Germany, and Dr. Jerry Pratt, from the IHMC in Pensacola, Florida.


“Humans and Robots Face to Face” was the slogan of the conference this year, and indeed, many of those who attended had the opportunity to view prototypes of robots to scrutinize the circuits and mechanisms within these inventions. More than a hundred media outlets expressed interest in the event and in the scientists responsible for this technology. Miguel González-Fierro is an example. He researches dynamic control, postural planning and automatic learning of robots. To do so, he normally works with HOAP-3, a small humanoid that is 60 centimeters tall and weighs eight kilos. This research platform, acquired from Fujitsu (Humanoid for Open Architecture Platform), is used so that scientists can test the algorithms they develop so that robots perfect their abilities of movement and locomotion. “Our goal is to help people and make life easier for them, but above all, we would like to improve the quality of life of the elderly and the disabled. Humanoids could do all the tasks that they cannot do,” said González-Fierro.


There is growing interest in the field of human interaction and cooperation, especially in everyday activities in real environments.  The scenarios that are considered include the field of welfare with the ill and disabled, help in the home, support in work environments (construction, manufacturing, aeronautics), etc.  In fact, at Humanoids 2014, a competition was organized for the first time, HUMABOT, in which mini-robot humanoids participated, performing routine operations from daily life.  In particular, there was a simulated kitchen environment where the robots had to perform a series of operations programmed by teams of engineers. The UC3M came in 3rd place, behind the Mexican and Swedish teams, which won this particular competition.


Another of the stars of Humanoids 2014 was TEO (see photos in the Flickr gallery), which presented its new circuits at the event. In fact, it represents the evolution of RH-1, the first humanoid robot at the UC3M, and it owes its name (Task Environment Operator) to its ability to perform tasks and manipulate objects (it can hold cans of soda, boxes, etc.).  Its next challenge is to walk safely, one of the most complex tasks for this type of machine.


With its 60 kilos of weight, TEO accompanied the authorities and institutional representatives who attended the conference inauguration at the Melía Castilla Hotel on November 19th. The event, inaugurated by the President of UC3M, Daniel Peña (second on the left in the upper photo), included the participation of Carlos Balaguer as the organizer of IEEE-RAS Humanoids 2014 and the Vice Chancellor of Research and Transfer of the University; Ignacio González, president of the Autonomous Region of Madrid(in the middle); Jorge Sainz, director of University Policy from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (second to the right); and Kazuito Kawamura, Life Fellow of the IEEE (first on the left).

photos on Flickr:

further information:

interview with Carlos Balaguer: