Historical Perspective of Humanoid Robot Research in the Americas

  • Stefan Schaal
Reference work entry


One of the key aspects of humanoid robotics is the inspiration from the human body, from human perceptuomotor skills, and from robots operating in human environments with human-made tools. Evolution did develop the human body to be very suitable for its domain of operation, and on top, humans did further tailor their environments to suit their own bodies and abilities. Thus, in order to conduct research on humanoid robots, one possible entry point is to study human behavior and neural information processing. Psychology and neuroscience are research fields with exactly this interest, but often have a strong descriptive element in their research. However, humanoid robotics requires in addition computational theories and causal modeling in order to be able to synthesize behavior with an actual physical system – in the spirit of Richard Feynman’s famous quote “What I cannot create, I do not understand.” As one of the many possibilities of approaching a historical perspective of humanoid robotics research in the USA, it appears illuminating to start with some key events of computational neuroscience which happened at a time, where it was hardly possible to build useful humanoid robots, and how several branches of humanoid robotics research developed out of this initial work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Schaal
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institute for Intelligent SystemsTübingenGermany
  2. 2.Computer ScienceUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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