SURALP, Turkey’s first humanoid robot, was introduced to Turkish audiences on Wednesday in İstanbul. Eight years in development, it weighs 114 kilograms, is 164 centimeters tall and cost around $1 million.
In studies that first started in 2002, a team of mechatronics engineers at the Sabancı University engineering and natural sciences faculty, under the leadership of Associate Professor Kemalettin Erbatur, have developed the humanoid designed to help human beings in daily life.
SURALP, which stands for Sabancı University Robot Research Laboratory Platform, is only a humble step in robotics technology compared it to its peers in Japan, Europe and the US.
SURALP can perceive the environment and discern obstacles in its path via cameras installed in its head, and the humanoid is also able to grasp objects in its hands. It can also walk on a variety of road surfaces while maintaining its balance. When it stumbles or trips when walking, it can reach out for support from a nearby wall to correct its balance.
Erbatur said the robot was designed and produced to resemble the human form, with, for example, six joints in each of its arms and legs.
The project received considerable financial backing from the Turkish Scientific and Technical Research Institute (TÜBİTAK), Erbatur noted.
During the demonstration of its performance abilities, SURALP first grasped a can of drink from the table and handed it to a team member. Then it took the empty can from the table and threw it in the trash.
SURALP displayed its skills in walking forward and backwards, and it even performed a little dance for the audience. It nodded “yes” and “no” to Erbatur’s questions about whether it enjoyed dancing and whether it felt tired.
The humanoid can communicate by head movements at present and as the team still has work to do to improve its speaking ability.