Tag: ‘METI’

i-SOBOT named ‘2008 Robot of the Year’

19 Dec 2008

Omnibot 17u i-SOBOT --

Takara Tomy's Omnibot 17μ i-SOBOT, a miniature humanoid robot recognized by Guinness as the smallest mass-produced robot of its kind, has been named Japan's 2008 Robot of the Year, it was announced on December 18.

The annual Robot of the Year Award was established by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in 2006 to stimulate the development and commercial application of robots in a variety of industries.

Judges awarded this year's Grand Prize to i-SOBOT due to its advanced technology, its high entertainment value, and its reasonable price of under 30,000 yen (around $300). Equipped with 17 miniature servo motors, the 350-gram (12 oz), 16.5-centimeter (6.5 in) programmable humanoid can walk, play air guitar, dance the hula, and perform 200 other moves. The tiny hobby robot is also equipped with a set of gyro sensors for balance, and it can be controlled via remote control or simple voice commands. The robot runs for about an hour on 4 AAA batteries.

In addition to the Grand Prize, this year's Small to Medium-sized Venture Award was presented to "Book Time," an automatic page-turning robot developed by Nishizawa Electronic Measuring Instruments.

Book Time --

Designed for use in hospitals by people with limited use of their hands and/or arms, Book Time turns the pages of books with either a simple press of a button, a breath-activated switch, or a large button activated by the user's foot. The robot is compatible with a wide range of book sizes and is easy to set up and use.

This year's Special Jury Prize was awarded to a rice-planting robot developed by the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO).

Rice-planting robot --

This GPS-equipped machine is designed to assist farmers by working autonomously to plant rice within a set of programmed coordinates. It takes the robot about 50 minutes to seed 3,000 square meters (0.75 acre) of land.

[Source: Robot of the Year Award (PDF)]

Zero Emission House

17 Jun 2008

Zero Emissions House --

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has released a few details about the "Zero Emission House," a state-of-the-art green home under construction at the site of the upcoming Hokkaido Toyako G8 Summit, where environmental issues will be high on the agenda.

Incorporating the latest in sustainable building technology, the 280-square-meter (3,000 sq ft) Japanese-style home is designed to have a small carbon footprint. A 14.5-kilowatt solar array and a small 1-kilowatt wind generator provide power to the home, which is equipped with next-generation energy-saving appliances, thermal insulation glass, vacuum insulated panels and a green roof. The interior is illuminated by a system of light ducts and OLED lamps.

Zero Emissions House --

Honda's Asimo humanoid robot -- whose exact carbon footprint size is unknown -- will be on hand to serve tea to guests, who are welcome to test-drive the electric vehicles in the driveway and soak their feet in the fuel cell-powered foot bath.

Construction of the 200 million yen ($2 million) home is scheduled for completion at the end of June, at which time it will be unveiled to the foreign press. After the summit, plans are to transport the house to another location, where it will be opened to the general public.

[Source: METI]

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]

Intelligent robots by 2015, says METI

23 Aug 2006

AsimoJapan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has set aside over 2 billion yen (US$17.4 million) in its 2007 budget to support the development of intelligent robots that rely on their own decision-making skills in the workplace. The objective of METI's robot budget is to support the development of key artificial intelligence technology for robots over the next 5 years, with the goal of introducing intelligent robots to the market by 2015.

Robots typically need to be pre-programmed with their operation patterns before they can function properly, so their applications tend to be limited and they tend not to adapt well to changes in their surroundings. Intelligent robots capable of working in tandem with humans, on the other hand, will analyze their environments based on voice and image data obtained through their sensors and adapt their behavior accordingly.

METI plans to use the 2 billion yen budget to commission universities and manufacturers to research and develop artificial intelligence and voice/image recognition technology, which would be combined into commercially available robots by 2015.

Examples of next-generation intelligent robots envisioned by METI include cleaning robots and security robots that only need to be shown a facility's blueprints before they get to work. Based on this information, these robots would make their own decisions about what routes to take as they make their rounds. The cleaning robot would seek out areas that are particularly dirty and focus on cleaning those areas, while the security robot would decide for itself whether or not to report suspicious individuals it encounters during its patrol.

METI also envisions a guide robot with highly advanced voice and image processing technology that can interact smoothly with humans. Such robots would be able to speak and interact with customers in busy supermarkets, providing customers with verbal and non-verbal (pointing) instructions on how to find particular items in the store.

The past 10 years has seen a rapid increase in the number of industrial robots, with an estimated 840,000 robots in operation worldwide. And with Japan's annual robot market expected to swell to about 3 trillion yen (US$26 billion) over the next 10 years, the Japanese government sees the development of next-generation intelligent robots as a key component in its economic growth strategy.

Sayonara, dumb robots.

[Source: Fuji Sankei]

METI to establish Robot of the Year Award?

16 May 2006

Robo-KoizumiIn an effort to further promote Japan?s robot industry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) plans to establish an annual Robot of the Year Award to recognize outstanding robots developed and put into practical use each year.

Beginning this July, the ministry will begin accepting applications for this year's candidates. After review by a panel of experts, the results will be announced at an award ceremony held at the end of the year.

In addition to the grand prize, prizes will be awarded to robots in the following categories: (1) industrial robots, such as those used in painting and welding, (2) service robots, such as those used in cleaning and security, (3) robots for use in special environments, such as rescue robots, and (4) robots developed by small to medium sized venture firms.

Japan?s market for Japanese robots is expected to grow from its current 500 billion yen ($4.5 billion) to about 1.8 trillion yen ($16 billion) in 2010, with particularly strong growth expected in the household service robot industry.

[Source: Yomiuri Shimbun /// (Image via Shu's Blog)]

Ryuichi Sakamoto expands attack on controversial law

23 Mar 2006

Ryuichi SakamotoAt a press conference held in Tokyo on March 23, composer Ryuichi Sakamoto made a public appeal to the government to exempt all secondhand electrical goods from the Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law (a.k.a. PSE Law, or DENAN). The law, which is set to take effect April 1, will prohibit businesses from selling electrical goods that do not bear the PSE mark (that signifies compliance with the law?s safety standards). In other words, before putting products up for sale, dealers will be forced to file paperwork and perform tests (such as 1,000 volts for one minute) on each and every pre-2002 electrical product in order to obtain a PSE mark. Though the government recently revised the law so that it does not apply to certain "vintage" electric instruments with high scarcity value, Sakamoto called upon the government to expand the exemption to all secondhand electrical goods.

?It is not up to the bureaucrats to determine what is ?vintage? and what is not," said Sakamoto, who was joined at the press conference by several other musicians, including composer/performer Hideki Togi and producer Kenzo Saeki. "The things we use should not be a matter for the government bureaucracy to decide. They think that we musicians will shut up because vintage instruments are no longer subject to the law, but I?d like to see everyone get behind those who make a living in the recycled goods business.?

Sakamoto was scheduled to deliver a formal written demand, in the form of a petition, to the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry after the press conference. The petition includes the signatures of about 50 musicians, including Tetsuya Komuro and Misayoshi Yamazaki, as well as 8 music organizations.

[Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, Kyodo]