iCub is a child-size humanoid robot capable of crawling, grasping objects, and interacting with people. It's designed as an open source platform for research in robotics, AI, and cognitive science.
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There are about 20 iCubs in various labs around the world, mainly in Europe (but one is in the United States).
Auke Ijspeert, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Lausanne, describes the challenges in teaching iCub how to crawl.Photo: iCub Project
The RobotCub Consortium, funded in part by the European Commission's Cognitive Systems and Robotics program, started developing the humanoid iCub in 2004. The first version was released in 2008. New versions followed, upgrading the robot's head mechanics, upper-body skin, and sensing. Researchers used iCub as a platform to study cognition, locomotion, and manipulation. The RobotCub project is currently coordinated by Giulio Sandini and Giorgio Metta at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), in Genoa. Other institutions participating in the project include University of Genoa, Scuola Sant'Anna, University of Ferrara, Telerobot, University of Uppsala, University of Sheffield, University of Hertfordshire, IST, EPFL, and University of Zurich. In 2017, Italian researchers published a paper exploring the idea of equipping iCub with small jet engines that would allow it to fly. In 2022, Daniele Pucci and colleagues at IIT introduced iCub3, a bigger, heavier, stronger upgrade that can also be used as a sophisticated immersive telepresence platform.