Will C-3PO, R2-D2 or Iron Man robots ever really exist?

Will C-3PO, R2-D2 or Iron Man robots ever really exist?

Star Wars heroes R2D2 and C3PO – Jonathan Short/AP/SIPA

  • Thursday, the Montpellier Association Science Animation experts will dissect the robot stars of science fiction, in a conference broadcast on YouTube.
  • Will C-3PO, R2-D2 or Iron Man ever exist? Why not. But some features will still require a lot of researchers’ work.
  • Robots today are capable of performing simple missions, but cannot yet take initiative or express emotion.

What if robots envisioned by science fiction masters became reality? Thursday (7 pm), live on youtube, Association
science animation Will voice robotics experts, who will dissect popular machines by cinema and series: Iron Man, C-3PO, R2-D2, Wall-E… just to put oil in your mouth, 20 minutes asked Vincent Cruz, lecturer and researcher in the Computer Science, Robotics and Microelectronics Laboratory
montpilier (Liram), to see the possibility of these machines coming to life.

The answer is… “Why not”. But some of the key characteristics of these heroes, which are their charm (and their strength), will still require a lot of work from researchers. First, what already exists (or almost). If our smartphones don’t master the millions of forms of communication, as C-3PO often claims, then star wars, translation applications allow more than one tourist abroad to exit Panad. “It’s the same thing,” Vincent Cruz explains.

“Today the machine doesn’t think”

And when R2-D2 does simple mechanic missions, it’s also possible. “A robot that knows how to drive a car, for example, we know how to do,” continues the researcher. At Liram, collaborators have created a robot that is able to get behind the wheel by depressing the brake pedal or clutch. The military on Tuesday also put forward a robot named Barracuda on Twitter, which is capable of carrying a ton of material, and which can also be equipped with a shield. We’re not too far off from some of the basic features of the little robot, which are included in his adventures with Luke Skywalker.

And that is what is currently not possible. “In iron man, Armor initiates, anticipates, reflects, notes Vincent Cruz. Today machines do not think. They do only planned work, their behavior is planned. And even when it comes
artificial intelligence : Once the machine, for example, recognizes an object, it does not make any decisions on its own. » So in the scenery, star warsWhere we see robots discussing among themselves to develop a strategy, it is not tomorrow. “He may one day surpass these types of robots, like C3-PO, walking down the street, without a doubt, the researcher continues. But it will still take some time for them to be able to initiate themselves.”

Iron Man – SOPA Images/SIPA

“The robot can only imitate an emotion”

Even the robots that exist today are not capable of feeling and expressing any emotion. Joey on R2-D2, who stamps his feet on the spot, panics at C3-PO, who doesn’t exist. “The robot can only imitate an emotion”, the researcher continues. Like connected speakers, they are “programmed to give the impression that they have a certain sensitivity”. But “a real feeling, an attachment to one’s master, that cannot exist today”, notes Vincent Cruz.

Another problem: their autonomy. “Humanoid robots today last about twenty minutes,” explains the Montpellier expert. If it were to be longer, they would have to carry their own batteries. And there, we enter a vicious cycle: the more those heavy batteries carry, the more energy it will consume. “

The future of humanoid robots?

Finally, there is a limit to the creation of humanoids: sometimes, having eyes, arms and legs in a machine is useless in real life. Whereas in movies it is (almost) always. In cinema, “we sometimes see robots making other robots in factories,” notes Vincent Cruz. That does not make sense. Instead we will install faster and more accurate robotic arms. In industrial underwater environments, for example, some valves can be controlled by large robots. We won’t bother building humanoid robots. “

On the other hand, to assist an elderly person at home, because there are stairs, buttons, handles to climb… and because it would be better accepted, it makes sense to build a humanoid machine. So in C3-PO Mamie, yes. But before that. talks with her from the last episode of more beautiful life, there is still work to be done.

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