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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Japanese robot news

Household robot
Japanese researchers on Tuesday unveiled a new humanoid robot designed to lend a hand with housework, particularly the rapidly growing number of elderly people in the Asian country. The 147-centimetre (four-foot-10) robot, pure white save for blue eyes and red arm joints, put its skills on display by helping an elderly person get out of bed and preparing breakfast.

While communicating with the person, the 111-kilogramme (244-pound) robot picked up tomato sauce from the refrigerator with four fingers and carried it with a piece of bread on a plate to the dining table.

Hitachi EMIEW 2
New EMIEW 2 humanoid robots from Hitachi Ltd. was shown during a press preview at its research center in Hitachinaka, north of Tokyo, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2007. The 80 centimeter (31.50 inch) tall 13 kilogram (29 pound) toddler-like robot, designed to work as a guide and run errands in offices, rolled around on two wheels or four wheels and waved just fine in a demonstration upon receiving commands from a personal computer by a new remote wireless control function, only to crash into a desk over a wireless glitch — highlighting the enormous hurdles robots must overcome to become real-life partners.

Lady Bird robot cleaner
On November 21, a group of small- to medium-sized venture companies based in western Japan unveiled an autonomous ladybug-shaped robot designed to clean public restrooms at highway rest areas.
The 1-meter (39-inch) tall, 1.35-meter (53-inch) long prototype robot — named “Lady Bird” — is equipped with water tanks, brushes and other tools needed for heavy-duty scrubbing. Obstacle detection sensors allow the robot to safely perform its duties without running into people.
In addition to cleaning, Lady Bird can engage in simple conversation with restroom users, thanks to microphones in its “antennae,” speech recognition capabilities and a voice synthesizer. The robot has access to the latest information about traffic conditions on nearby roads, which it can relay to anyone comfortable enough to ask.

The developers, who are building Lady Bird for West Nippon Expressway Company Limited (NEXCO), aim to complete the machine by March 2009, and they hope to one day see it cleaning toilets at hotels and other institutions. Lady Bird robots are expected to sell for about 3.5 million yen ($30,000) each.

WAO-1: Face massage robot
On October 9, professors Atsuo Takanishi of Waseda University and Akitoshi Katsumata of Asahi University unveiled an oral rehabilitation robot, called “WAO-1″ (Waseda Asahi Oral Rehabilitation Robot 1), which is designed to help treat mouth, jaw and facial disorders by performing therapeutic face massages. In November, the developers will begin clinical testing of a prototype robot — built by dental X-ray equipment manufacturer Asahi Roentgen — on patients in Yokohama.

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