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This is my first question here and I'm not into this thing at all.

I recently saw a movie named Pacific Rim and in that I saw a technique in which a robotic arm imitates human arm(in the beginning of the movie). I was wondering what is that technique called and is it ever possible to build giant robots like the ones shown in the movie( Considering we've no shortage of budget).

I'm not into robotics at all so I just thought about asking it here.

Thank You!

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  • $\begingroup$ I didn't see the movie however for imitating human arms you can use dynamic movement primitives $\endgroup$ – Long Smith Jun 14 '20 at 17:24
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This is reference tracking. It's basically the sole point of the entire field of control theory.

Provide a reference input (like the encoder position from a device attached to your arm) and drive the system until the actual output matches the reference input.

Voltage regulation, cruise control, rocket guidance, autopilot, self-driving cars... nearly everything that has a "behavior" has a target they're trying to achieve.

And for giant robot arms specifically, there is the Hand of Man.

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  • $\begingroup$ I believe the OP is specifically asking about the technique of having a remote manipulator reference track the kinematics of a human operator in real-time. A device set up to do this is often called a waldo. $\endgroup$ – RLH Jun 12 '20 at 6:05
  • $\begingroup$ @RLH - I've never heard of the term before, but there's a reference to it on the Wikipedia page. I've edited your answer to include a link, but could you please post more context? I'd like to read more about it but the wiki entry is sparse and I can't seem to find much elsewhere online. $\endgroup$ – Chuck Jun 12 '20 at 15:32
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A robot manipulator that’s designed to mimic an operator in real-time can be called a “waldo” or "telemanipulator". The term "waldo" originates from Robert Heinlein, and was widespread enough at least in the science fiction literature to be used without explanation or comment as a technical term by characters in works such as The Forever War (1974) and Burning Chrome (1982).

The background section of this paper about the da Vinci surgical robot describes the history of the term as

Robert A. Heinlein's 1942 science fiction short story, titled "Waldo", described a glove and harness device that allowed the lead character, Waldo Farthingwaite-Jones – born frail and weak, and unable to lift his own body weight – to control a powerful mechanical arm by merely moving his hand and fingers. It was not long before these kinds of remote manipulators – popularly known as "waldoes" – were developed in the real world for moving and manipulating hazardous radioactive materials.

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  • $\begingroup$ I hadn’t heard of waldoes before - thanks. Telemanipulation is, as you said, mimicing the operatir’s motions remotely. Check out pantographs and other systems at Oak Ridge and JPL. “Human amplifier” is the term for exoskeltal systems that enable higher performance of the operator himself. $\endgroup$ – SteveO Jun 12 '20 at 18:09
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I'd call it a waldo arm. Another common term for it is a master-slave.

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Anthropomorphic or human like arms are often use in automation. Most 6 and 7 axis industrial robot arms are designed to move like human arms. We even use human terms like shoulder, elbow, forearm and wrist to describe them.

Traditionally a series of positions was taught to the robot which it then repeats. A few people are workings on methods of videoing a human doing a job and then translating that video in robot positions and motion. I can't say much more, other then it is not the company I work for, but rather some people that I have talked to. Some day there may be a actual product that people can see.

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