Pal Robotics unveils its 3rd gen humanoid robot

The United Arab Emirates, known for its lavish building projects like the Burj Khalifa, is also financing an equally ambitious robot project. PAL Robotics, based in Barcelona, Spain, was contracted to build a robot that could stand next to the likes of Honda’s ASIMO. Now, after nearly a decade, the company has unveiled its third generation humanoid robot.
Named after an island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, the REEM robots have been in development since 2004, and it’s all thanks to one wealthy science fiction fan. "It’s owned by the United Arab Emirates royal family," explains Professor Noel Sharkey, professor of Robotics and Artifical Intelligence at the University of Sheffield, in an interview with "The young prince is a big Star Trek fan, and so he spent a few million pounds getting all these really good engineers to build this robot for him."
REEM-A, which looked a little like a storm trooper crossed with C-3PO, took just one year to build. By 2006, it had been programmed to walk and play chess, and it could recognize faces, objects, and verbal commands. In 2007, it placed second in RoboCup soccer’s Adult Size league, which involved one-on-one penalty kicks. That same year at Wired NextFest, it one-upped robots like KAIST’s HUBO and Honda’s ASIMO (which were limited to pre-rehearsed stage shows) by walking around freely amongst the show’s visitors.
By 2008, the team’s second generation robot, REEM-B, took its first steps. This version of the robot was able to carry up to 12 kg (26 lb), which made it the strongest bipedal humanoid robot at that time. One of REEM-B’s more unusual design features included laser range finders on its feet, which could generate maps of its surroundings as it walked. And it was capable of operating for up to 2 hours on its internal batteries, about double the running time of Honda’s ASIMO.