Even at a very young age, Kiwon Sohn developed an interest and fascination toward robots. Assembling toy robots was one way for him to discover how they worked.
“At the age of seven my mother would buy me one robot everyday. I would take it apart and assemble it again. I would try to assemble the robot every night until I fell asleep, then throw it away, and get a new one the next day.” Sohn said. His parents encouraged him to be an engineer, not necessarily working in robotics. However he believes they had an indirect impact on his career and love for robotics.
As the Chief of Engineering Unit for team DRC-Hubo@UNLV working on humanoids – human inspired robots to help and protect humans in disaster sites and situations- Sohn said he understands that everyone has a vision and a way of executing an idea on the robot, so his job is to connect everyone’s ideas to reach the best design and most efficient programing for the robot before the DARPA Robotics Challenge.
He believes that humanoids would work better if they had muscles. The rigid bodies of the robots limit their movement and performance.
Sohn hopes that people understand that humanoids are created to replace human responders in disaster situations. He worries that the public has the wrong idea about humanoids. Some believe that the robots are unsafe or that the robots will turn against humans. Sohn said both are misconceptions.
“The main purpose of these humanoids is helping people during times of disasters, our goal is to help people, not create a weapon against them. I hope that people understand that we build these humanoids to help and protect. These humanoids are their friends not enemies.” Sohn said.