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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

South Korea to Build Robot Theme Parks

Nov 13, 2007
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) The Commerce Ministry announced a proposal Tuesday to build two parks by 2013 for $1.6 billion.
South Korea regards robotics — which includes software and hardware used mostly in manufacturing but also in some consumer appliances and other devices — as a key area for economic development. The young field has grown about 40 percent a year since 2003, according to the ministry.
Combining culture and entertainment with robot technology, they are to be built in Incheon, just west of Seoul, and the port city of Masan, about 242 miles south of Seoul, the ministry said in a statement. The government will provide $54.7 million to each city.

Visitors will be able to interact with robots and test new products. The project still needs to be approved in a feasibility study next year before getting off the ground in 2009, the ministry said.

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.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Toyota Partner Robot Vision

Toyota Motor has marked the 70th anniversary of its founding by announcing a long-term business plan that calls for the commercialization of its humanoid Partner Robots for jobs like housekeeping and nursing support. Accoording to the Toyota Global Vision 2020 plan robots will be a core business for Toyota, which also plans to make hybrid technology available for its entire fleet of vehicles.

During the EXPO 2005 AICHI, JAPAN (The 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan) Toyota displayed a variety of its future technologies, based on the theme “The Dream, Joy and Inspiration of Mobility in the 21st Century.” Some of the technologies on display included the personal mobility “i-unit,” the “Toyota partner robots” designed to aid human activities, a next-generation urban transit system called “IMTS(Intelligent Multimode Transit System),” and a fuel cell hybrid bus. http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/vision/emerging_tech/index.html

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Tartan Racing wins $2 million prize for DARPA URBAN CHALLENGE

Tartan Racing’s “Boss” of Pittsburgh, Penn., turned in the top performance in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Urban Challenge and won the $2 million cash prize as the competition’s first-place winner, DARPA announced on Nov 4th. Stanford Racing’s “Junior” of Stanford, Calif., won the $1 million second place prize, while Victor Tango’s “Odin” of Blacksburg, Va., received $500,000 for finishing third.

The
Urban Challenge prize winners competed as part of a field of 11 finalists that was selected from 35 semifinalists that competed in the National Qualification Event (NQE) prior to the final event. Semifinalists were selected from the original field of 89 competitors.

Vehicles that competed in the Urban Challenge were required to operate entirely autonomously, without human intervention, as they obeyed California traffic laws and performed maneuvers such as merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles and avoiding obstacles. The vehicles had to think like human drivers and continually make split-second decisions to avoid moving vehicles, merge into traffic and safely pass through intersections. Demonstrating safe operation in an urban situation was an effective and consolidated method of testing situations the vehicles might face even while conducting missions in less populated areas.