Cronos, the humanoid robot

This is Cronos, or at least the 3rd generation humanoid torso developed entirely by The Robot Studio for Owen Holland’s and Tom Troscianko’s EPSRC Adventure Fund project to build a conscious robot.

Cronos was built from the waist up so it could be used as a tool to investigate the relationship between visual perception (seeing things – keep going with this web page, although it doesn’t look like it some of the most interesting things you’ve ever seen are just a click away – scroll down to the first hyperlink to start, if you’ve never seen change blindness before you literally won’t believe your eyes), sensorimotor skills (doing things) and the sensation of experience – which in this case would be a machine consciousness.

Cronos was the most accurate copy of the human anatomy that had built at that time and had 45 powered degrees of freedom to produce:

  • a head that can move in all directions
  • a single pan-tilt-roll camera for an eye
  • a very long, flexible neck for visual inspection of objects


  • a flexible spine complete with vertebral discs
  • the first working, powered copy of the human shoulder with gliding shoulder blade
  • two arms that can each lift a 2kg load
  • fully mobile wrists
  • five fingered hands

 Electric screwdriver motors were used throughout as they are cheap, reliable and readily available.

The motor output characteristics are tuned through the elasticity of the tendon attachment to the body.

The motor control algorithm is biologically-inspired and uses a mixture of positional and velocity based control – this combines with the passive dynamic characteristics of the body to produce smooth co-ordinated action.

Commercial electronic speed controllers were used to reduce costs and development times.