In December 2013, Google acquired 8 robotic companies that specialize in manipulation, vision and humanoid robots. One of those companies is a spinout of MIT, Meka, and they are creating ‘sociable’ humanoids that safely work next to humans in various environments.
The robots created by Meka feature adult-size arms, hands, torsos and full-body systems with specialized spring-based controls that provide torque control and measurements at each joint. Taking it a step further, the company collaborated with other researchers to design humanoid heads that have expressive eyes and emotive ears. The ‘sociable’ robots heads 13 degrees of freedom (DOF) including moving eyes, eyelids, movable ears and a neck that replicates a human’s range of motion. It can use nonverbal cues by moving its head, eye contact and blinking.