Tag: ‘AIST’

Dance of the HRP-4C Cybernetic Human

18 Oct 2010

Visitors to the Digital Content Expo in Tokyo last weekend were treated to a choreographed dance routine featuring AIST's feminine HRP-4C robot and four humans.

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The performance, called "Dance Robot LIVE! - HRP-4C Cybernetic Human," is the culmination of a year-long effort to teach the humanoid to dance. The routine was produced by renowned dancer/choreographer SAM-san (a member of the popular music group TRF who has worked with numerous well-known artists like SMAP and BoA), and the lip-synced song is a Vocaloid version of "Deatta Koro no Yō ni" by Kaori Mochida (Every Little Thing).

Here are a few photos of the performance.

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

HRP-4C humanoid robot dance --

[Video: kmoriyama // Photos: Pink Tentacle]

HRP-4: Athletic robot worker

16 Sep 2010

Kawada Industries and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have updated their 10-year-old line of HRP humanoid robots with an athletic machine they hope to develop into a menial worker.

HRP robot -- HRP robot -- HRP robot --
HRP-4: Menial worker of the future?

The blue and white humanoid -- named HRP-4 -- stands 1.51 meters (5 ft) tall and boasts the body of a track-and-field athlete. The robot's 34 joints are more flexible than those of previous models, and at 39 kilograms (86 lbs), it weighs 4 kilograms (8.8 lbs) less than last year's entertainment-oriented HRP-4C fembot.

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At the unveiling on Wednesday, the agile robot demonstrated a range of skills that may come in handy in the workplace, such as the ability to stand on one foot, twist its waist, strike poses, follow spoken commands, recognize faces, and track objects by moving its head. Its five-fingered hands are also more dexterous than those of its predecessors.

Kawada and AIST plan to begin selling the robots to universities and research institutions in January 2011 at a starting price of 26 million yen ($305,000) each.

[Sources: Nikkei, AIST]

Video: HRP-4C robot sings with Vocaloid voice

07 Oct 2009

Outfitted with Yamaha's Vocaloid singing voice synthesizer software, the HRP-4C female fashion model humanoid robot developed by AIST earlier this year has been entertaining CEATEC Japan visitors with renditions of popular songs.

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In this video, HRP-4C sings a rendition of Hitoto Yo's "Hanamizuki."

‘Taizo’ robot leads exercises for the elderly

11 Sep 2009

On Thursday -- shortly before the Japanese government released new statistics showing the nation's centenarian population has reached an all-time high of more than 40,000 -- researchers from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) unveiled a new humanoid robot designed to lead the elderly in physical exercises.

Taizou exercise instructor robot --
Taizo (built by AIST, General Robotix and Ibaraki Prefectural Health Plaza)

Dressed in a velvety space suit and sporting a goofy grin, the 70-centimeter (28-in) tall robot, named "Taizo" (a play on the word "taisou," which means "calisthenics"), has a friendly appearance designed to motivate elderly people to engage in more physical exercise.

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With 26 joints in its body, the 7-kilogram (15-lb) mechanical exercise instructor can smoothly demonstrate around 30 different moves for others to imitate. Although Taizo does most of its exercises while sitting in a special chair, it can also stand up to perform some activities.

Taizou exercise instructor robot --

Taizo can operate for about two hours on a single charge, and it has very basic language skills -- enough to understand simple spoken commands and lead a group in exercise.

The developers plan to start selling (and renting) the robots next year for around 800,000 yen (approx. $8,000) each.

[Sources: Sankei, Robot Watch, AIST]

Video: HRP-4C fashion model robot

16 Mar 2009

The HRP-4C, a walking, talking humanoid fashion model fembot developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), is ready for the runway. (Watch her strut her stuff.)

HRP-4C fashion model robot -- HRP-4C fashion model robot --

With 30 motors in her body, the 158-centimeter (62-in) tall, 43-kilogram (95-lb) HRP-4C can walk around and strike a range of poses.

HRP-4C fashion model robot -- HRP-4C fashion model robot --

The black-haired robot also has 8 motors in her face, allowing her to wow the crowds with expressions of simple emotions like anger and surprise.

HRP-4C fashion model robot --
Anger // Surprise

HRP-4C is scheduled to make her official runway debut in a special fashion show in Tokyo next week, though she will not be wearing any clothes.

HRP-4C fashion model robot --

But really, who needs clothes with a body like that?

[Sources: AIST, IHT, Daily Mail]

1,000 Paro robots migrating to Denmark

21 Nov 2008

PARO Mental Commit Robot --

The largest-ever migration of baby harp seal robots from Japan is about to begin, following an agreement by Denmark to purchase 1,000 of them for use in health care facilities. Paro, a human-interactive robotic seal developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), has scientifically demonstrated the ability to elicit emotions, activate the mind and calm nerves in patients at hospitals and nursing homes, earning it the Guinness title of "world's most therapeutic robot." Although the well-traveled Paro now resides at welfare institutions in more than 20 nations around the world, the Danish government is the first organization to make a large-scale purchase. Denmark aims to have the Paro robots in their new homes by 2011.

[Sources: Jiji, Chunichi]

AIST improves 3D projector

18 Jul 2007

3D display --- In 1926, Kenjiro Takayanagi, known as the "father of Japanese television," transmitted the image of a katakana character (?) to a TV receiver built with a cathode ray tube, signaling the birth of the world's first all-electronic television. Last week, in a symbolic gesture over 80 years later, researchers from Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Burton Inc. and Hamamatsu Photonics K.K. displayed the same katakana character using a 3D projector that generates moving images in mid-air.

The 3D projector, which was first unveiled in February 2006 but has seen some recent improvements, uses focused laser beams to create flashpoint "pixels" in mid-air. The pixels are generated as the focused lasers heat the oxygen and nitrogen molecules floating in the air, causing them to spark in a phenomenon known as plasma emission. By rapidly moving these flashpoints in a controlled fashion, the projector creates a three-dimensional image that appears to float in empty space.

The projector's recent upgrades include an improved 3D scanning system that boosts laser accuracy, as well as a system of high-intensity solid-state femtosecond lasers recently developed by Hamamatsu Photonics. The new lasers, which unleash 100-billion-watt pulses (0.1-terawatt peak output) of light every 10-trillionths of a second (100 femtoseconds), improve image smoothness and boost the resolution to 1,000 pixels per second. In addition, image brightness and contrast can be controlled by regulating the number of pulses fired at each point in space.

The researchers say these improvements bring us one step closer to realizing the dream of 3DTV, but considering it took eight decades for Takayanagi's primitive 40-scan-line television to evolve into our present-day HDTV, we might have a while to wait.

[Source: AIST press release]

HRP-3 Promet Mk-II blue-collar robot

21 Jun 2007

HRP-3 Promet Mk-II ---

The HRP-3 Promet Mk-II, a blue-collar android tough enough to trudge through heavy rains, carry out disaster relief operations and work in environments hazardous to humans, demonstrated its skills at a June 21 press conference at Kawada Industries headquarters in Tochigi prefecture. In addition to flaunting its ability to walk on slippery surfaces, the robot showed off its electric screwdriver wielding talents by taking the opportunity to tighten up some loose screws.

The 1.6 meter (5 ft 3 in) tall, 68 kilogram (150 lb) robot, sometimes lovingly referred to as "Ma-kun," is the latest fruit of a 5-year joint effort by Kawada Industries, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) to develop a humanoid robot with sufficient skills to enter the workforce. This latest HRP incarnation features tougher hardware to make it more suitable for work in adverse environments, as well as improved balance and the ability to move its body parts in a more complex, coordinated fashion.

As with previous HRP series robots, the HRP-3 Promet Mk-II -- which cost 400 million yen ($3.3 million) to develop -- was designed by mecha creator Yutaka Izubuchi, who is well-known for his work on anime such as Gundam and Patlabor. Depending on how the droid is programmed, it can either work autonomously or be operated by a human via a wireless remote control system.

Ma-kun's creators say they hope to one day see it land a dirty, dangerous job.

(UPDATE: For lots of short videos, go to THIS PAGE, scroll down to the second group of photos, and click on the links under each picture -- WMV format.

...Or better yet, check out the remix version set to Senor Coconut's funky cha-cha-cha version of Kraftwerk's classic "The Robots.")

[Sources: Chunichi, AIST press release]

Top 10 robots selected for Robot Award 2006

04 Dec 2006

UPDATE Dec 21, 2006: Winners announced

GRAND PRIZE: Robotic building cleaning system (Fuji Heavy Industries and Sumitomo). The system received high marks for its efficiency and its ability to work both independently and alongside humans. The judges believe the robot has great potential to develop the market for robotic cleaning systems, as well as establish new business models in which robots and humans work side by side to provide inexpensive cleaning services.

SMALL-TO MEDIUM-SIZED VENTURE PRIZE: KHR-2HV (Kondo). The judges gave high marks to KHR-2HV for its relatively low price tag and its popularity with individual users both young and old. KHR-2HV was also recognized for fostering closer ties between humans and robots, as well as for its educational value.

HONORABLE MENTION: My Spoon (SECOM). The judges awarded their special prize to My Spoon for its contributions to society. The robot has received praise both in Japan and overseas for helping people enjoy the meals they want to eat and enabling them to eat with friends and family. The judges recognized the high quality of My Spoon resulting from SECOM's close cooperation with users and medical professionals in the development phase. They also like it because it is affordable.

// Dec 21, 2006 //

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has announced its top ten list of finalists for the 2006 Robot Award. The ten robots selected from 152 applications fall into four categories -- service robots, industrial robots, public sector robots, and small- to medium-sized venture robots.

METI established the annual Robot Award this year to recognize outstanding developments in the field of robotics, encourage further research and development, and stimulate demand. Winners of the grand prize and the special prize for small- to medium-sized ventures will be announced on December 21.

Here's a rundown of the top robots in each category...


Robot -- - Paro -- seal robot with therapeutic properties (Intelligent System/ AIST/ Microgenics)

Paro is a furry white robot modeled after a baby harp seal. Paro can serve as a pet alternative for general households, and research has shown that Paro has therapeutic effects on patients. Paro's entire body is covered in tactile sensors, and its actuators provide it with smooth movement. Lovingly crafted one by one, Paro is recognized for its safety, cleanliness, user-friendliness and durability. About 800 of the robotic seals have been adopted around Japan, and Paro's future plans include overseas travel. [More]

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Robot -- - My Spoon -- meal assistance robot (SECOM)

Designed to assist patients unable to use their hands, My Spoon enables users to enjoy ordinary meals by transporting food from a tray to the patient's mouth, one bite at a time. Users can select from three levels of contol -- manual (joystick control), semi-automatic or fully automatic -- to best suit their physical condition. My Spoon is available outside Japan, in the Netherlands and other locations in Europe. [More]

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Robot -- - Robotic building cleaning system (Fuji Heavy Industries/ Sumitomo)

This autonomous robot roams the hallways of buildings, performing cleaning operations along the way. Capable of controlling elevators, the robot can move from floor to floor unsupervised, and it returns to its start location once it has finished cleaning. The robot is currently employed as a janitor at 10 high-rise buildings in Japan, including Harumi Triton Square and Roppongi Hills. [More]

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Robot -- - MOTOMAN-DIA10/ MOTOMAN-IA20 (Yaskawa Electric)

These industrial robot arms are capable of human-like movement, which is great news for factories worried about Japan's shrinking population (and human labor force). The DIA10 consists of two 7-axis arms mounted on a torso.

According to this spec sheet (PDF), the robot has the "finesse of the human arm without the physical limitations." The same 7-axis design is incorporated into the IA20, a "snake" robot with great freedom of movement and the ability to operate in tight spaces.

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Robot -- - High-speed reliability verification robot (Denso Wave)

This robot relies on advanced machine vision technology to perform automated inspections on the go.

Highly reliable inspections can be performed at each location without stopping the line, allowing for speedier and more cost-effective operations.

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Robot -- - Tele-operated construction equipment (Fujita/ Technical Office of Kyushu, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Kyugi))

These remote-control unmanned construction machines were originally developed for dangerous recovery operations following disasters such as avalanches and rockslides.

Designed to prevent the occurrence of secondary disasters and greatly limit further damage and injury, these robots were deployed at the site of a disastrous mudslide that occurred in Okinawa in June 2006. [More]

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Robot -- - Urashima -- deep-sea autonomous underwater vehicle (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology)

Urashima is a remotely operated vehicle for deep-sea exploration. The 10-meter long vessel relies on hydrogen-based fuel cell batteries that allow it to travel much greater distances than vessels powered by standard lithium-ion batteries. Urashima is expected to play an important role in pre-dive surveys for manned submarines and in the survey of areas considered dangerous for or inaccessible by manned research submarines. [More]

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Robot --
- URG Series scanning laser range finders (Hokuyo)

These lightweight, compact laser range finders feature low power consumption, making them ideal sensors for autonomous mobile robots. [More]

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Robot -- -KHR-2HV (Kondo)

KHR-2HV is a high-performance build-it-yourself biped humanoid robot kit.

The popular KHR-2HV is faster, lighter and more agile than its predecessor, KHR-1, and it is packed with more controls, gears, servos and software.

Seventeen adjustable joints allow KHR-2HV to perform back flips, cartwheels and human-like moves, and USB connectivity means you can teach it lots of neat tricks. [More]

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Robot -- - Squid-fishing machine (Towa Denki)

Towa Denki has made a number of improvements to its automated squid-fishing machines since the company began manufacturing them in the 1970s.

Relying on functions such as high-tech load detectors, squid finders and water depth detectors, the machines can perform automated operations that boost squid-fishing productivity. [More]

[Source: Robot Award 2006]