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Monday, September 06, 2010

Telenoid - Communication Medium of the Future

Prof. Ishiguro demonstrating telerobot Telenoid at Ars Electronica 2010 in Linz (AT).

In robot development, Professor Ishiguro concentrates on the idea of making a robot that is as similar as possible to a live human being. At the World Expo 2005 in Aichi he unveiled the "female" android named Repliee Q1Expo. He explained that he very soon realised the importance of a robots appearance. A human-like appearance gives a robot a strong feeling of presence. Repliee Q1Expo could interact with people. It could respond to people touching it. It's very satisfying to interact with robots and people respond emotionally to robot interaction. In his opinion, it may be possible to build an android that is indistinguishable from a human, at least during a brief encounter. Ishiguro has also made an android that resembles himself, called the Geminoid.

The latest robot is called Telenoid R1, a portable telephone-operated android robot, it only measures 80 centimeters and weighs for only 5 kilograms. It has a minimum design that can distinguish it as human-like robot. Actually the appearance of this newly made android is quite disturbing. It looks like an undeveloped child with no gender.
Two visitors interact with a telenoid at Ars Electronica 2010

The idea in this project was to create a teleoperated robot that can be female or male, an adult or a youngster, that can be easily transferred, making it suitable for a wide-range of users. The system works by capturing the voice and tracking the head movements of the operator via a computer webcam. An operator sits with a computer with a webcam that sends the voice and head movements to the telenoid. These movements are then being imitated by the telenoid which is sitting beside the messages recipient. The operator can also push buttons to activate different behavior of the telenoid.

The Telenoid R1 only uses 9 dc motors as actuators compared to other Ishiguro’s android which uses 50 pneumatic actuators for Geminoid HI-1 and 12 pneumatic actuators for Geminoid F. Its simplified body helped the developers to cut production cost. The research version of the robot is estimated to cost for about $35,000 and the commercial version is about $8,000.

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