Tag: ‘Osaka-University’

Elfoid: Humanoid mobile phone

04 Mar 2011

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Elfoid -- a REAL android phone

Robotics researchers from Osaka University have teamed up with NTT Docomo and Qualcomm to develop a handheld humanoid phone that brings a new dimension to mobile communications. A prototype of the device -- called "Elfoid P1" -- was unveiled at a presentation in Tokyo on March 3.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --

The Elfoid phone is a miniature version of the Telenoid R1 robot developed last year by a research team led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro. The current prototype measures 20 centimeters (8 in) long, is covered in a soft fleshy urethane skin, and has the same genderless and ageless appearance as the Telenoid. The control buttons are embedded in the chest, which glows green when the Elfoid is in use.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
Dr. Ishiguro with Telenoid and Elfoid [Photo by: eSeL.at]

Like the full-sized Telenoid robot, the Elfoid handset is designed to add an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of a remote user.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo: Ars Electronica]

Equipped with a camera and motion-capture system, the Elfoid phone will be able to watch the user's face and transmit motion data to another Elfoid phone, which can then reproduce the face and head movements in real-time.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: d_&_r]

The current prototype is unable to move, but future versions will incorporate tiny motors and parts made from shape-memory alloys, allowing the Elfoid to move its eyes, mouth, neck and arms. Other features will include a temperature sensor, accelerometer, and an easy-to-use voice and gesture based interface.

Elfoid humanoid mobile phone robot --
[Photo by: antjeverena]

The developers hope to have a fully operational Elfoid mobile phone within five years.

[Sources: ATR, Gizmodo Japan, Yomiuri]

Telenoid R1 minimalist humanoid robot

02 Aug 2010

Researchers from Osaka University have teamed up with the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute (ATR) to develop a minimalist humanoid robot that recreates the physical presence of a remote user.

Telenoid humanoid robot --

Named "Telenoid R1," the teleoperated communication robot measures 80 centimeters (31 in) tall and weighs 5 kilograms (11 lbs). The portable machine features a soft silicone body that is pleasant to the touch, and it uses 9 actuators to move its eyes, mouth, head and rudimentary limbs.

Telenoid humanoid robot -- Telenoid humanoid robot --
Data is transmitted between the user and robot via Internet connection

The Telenoid R1 robot is designed to add an element of realism to long-distance communication by recreating the physical presence of the remote user. The robot's actions mirror those of the remote user, whose movements are monitored by real-time face tracking software on the user's computer. Users can also transmit their voice through the robot's embedded speakers.

Telenoid humanoid robot --
Telenoid R1 with Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro (Osaka University)

The Telenoid R1 is endowed with only the most basic human features -- just enough to recreate the physical presence of the remote user, according to robot's creators. The robot's androgynous and ageless look makes it suitable for a wide range of users, whether they are male, female, young or old.

Telenoid humanoid robot --
English lessons can be conducted via the Telenoid R1 robot

At the unveiling in Osaka on August 1, the developers announced plans to begin selling two versions of the minimalist humanoid in October. The high-end model will be priced at about 3 million yen ($35,000), and a cheaper model will be available for about 700,000 yen ($8,000).

Here's a short video demonstration.

[Sources: Telenoid, AFP, Yomiuri]

Geminoid F: Remote-control female android

05 Apr 2010

+ Video

Researchers from the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University have teamed up with robot maker Kokoro Co., Ltd. to create a realistic-looking remote-control female android that mimics the facial expressions and speech of a human operator.

Modeled after a woman in her twenties, the android -- called Geminoid F (the "F" stands for female) -- has long black hair, soft silicone skin, and a set of lifelike teeth that allow her to produce a natural smile.

Geminoid F, tele-operated fembot --

According to the developers, the robot's friendly and approachable appearance makes her suitable for receptionist work at sites such as museums. The researchers also plan to test her ability to put hospital patients at ease.

The research is being led by Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, who is known for creating teleoperated robot twins such as the celebrated Geminoid HI-1, which was modeled after himself.

Geminoid F --

The new Geminoid F can produce facial expressions more naturally than its predecessors -- and it does so with a much more efficient design. While the previous Geminoid HI-1 model was equipped with 46 pneumatic actuators, the Geminoid F uses only 12.

In addition, the entire air servo control system is housed within the robot's body and is powered by a small external compressor that runs on standard household electricity.

Geminoid F --
Geminoid F and her human counterpart, wearing outfits by fashion designer Junko Koshino

The Geminoid F's easy-to-use teleoperation system, which was developed by ATR Intelligent Robotics and Communication Laboratories, consists of a smart camera that tracks the operator's facial movements. The corresponding data is relayed to the robot's control system, which coordinates the movement of the pneumatic actuators to reproduce the expressions on the android's face.

The efficient design makes the robot much cheaper to produce than previous models. Kokoro plans to begin selling copies of the Geminoid F next month for about 10 million yen ($110,000) each.

[Via: Kokoro, AFP]

CB2 baby robot developing social skills

06 Apr 2009

CB2 baby robot --

In the nearly two years since it was first unveiled to the world, the Child-robot with Biomimetic Body, or CB2, has been developing social skills by interacting with humans and watching their facial expressions, according to its creators at Osaka University.

Comprised of robotics engineers, brain specialists, psychologists and other experts, the research team has been teaching the android to think like a baby by having it evaluate facial expressions and classify them into basic categories, such as happiness and sadness.

+ Video of CB2 from June 2007

The 130-centimter (4 ft 4 in) tall, 33-kilogram (73 lb) robot is equipped with eye cameras that record emotional expressions. Designed to learn like an infant, the robot can memorize facial expressions and match them with physical sensations, which it detects via 197 pressure sensors under a suit of soft, silicone skin.

CB2 baby robot --

In addition to watching faces, CB2 has been learning to walk. With 51 pneumatic "muscles," the little android can now amble through a room more smoothly than it could nearly two years ago, though it still requires the aid of a human.

CB2 baby robot --

Within two years, the researchers hope the robot will gain the intelligence of a two-year-old child and the ability to speak in basic sentences. In the coming decades, the researchers expect to develop a "robo species" that has learning abilities somewhere between those of humans and chimps.

CB2 baby robot --

[Link: AFP]

‘Atomic pen’ writes with individual atoms

17 Oct 2008

Atom pen --
An Osaka University research team has demonstrated an "atomic pen" that can inscribe nano-sized text on metal by manipulating individual atoms on the surface.

According to the researchers, whose results appear in the October 17 edition of Science magazine, the atomic pen is built on a previous discovery that silicon atoms at the tip of an atomic force microscope probe will interchange with the tin atoms in the surface of a semiconductor sample when in close proximity. Using this atom-interchange phenomenon, the researchers were able to arrange individual silicon atoms one by one on a semiconductor surface to spell out the letters "Si." The writing process, which took about an hour and a half to complete, was conducted at room temperature.

The completed text measures 2 x 2 nanometers, which is roughly 40,000 times smaller than the width of the average human hair.

"It's not possible to write any smaller than this," said Masayuki Abe, a researcher involved in the project.

The ability to incorporate individual atoms into a surface could lead to a variety of advances in atomic scale technology, the researchers suggest. If used in chip manufacturing, for example, this technology could help build powerful computers the size of a wristwatch.

[Source: Asahi]

Japan’s cyborg research enters the skull

17 Apr 2008

Mind-controlled robot arm -- Researchers at Osaka University are stepping up efforts to develop robotic body parts controlled by thought, by placing electrode sheets directly on the surface of the brain. Led by Osaka University Medical School neurosurgery professor Toshiki Yoshimine, the research marks Japan's first foray into invasive (i.e. requiring open-skull surgery) brain-machine interface research on human test subjects. The aim of the research is to develop real-time mind-controlled robotic limbs for the disabled, according to an announcement made at an April 16 symposium in Aichi prefecture.

Although brain waves can be measured from outside the scalp, a stronger, more accurate signal can be obtained by placing sensors directly on the brain -- but that requires open-skull surgery, making it more difficult to recruit volunteer test subjects.

The researchers, who have filed a license application with the Osaka University Hospital ethics board, are working to enlist willing subjects already scheduled to have brain electrodes implanted for the purpose of monitoring epilepsy or other conditions. The procedure, which does not involve puncturing the cortex, places an electrode sheet at the central sulcus, a fold across the center of the brain near the primary motor cortex (which is responsible for planning and executing movements).

To date, the researchers have worked with four test subjects to record brain wave activity generated as they move their arms, elbows and fingers. Working with Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), the researchers have developed a method for analyzing the brain waves to determine the subject's intended activity to an accuracy of greater than 80%. The next step is to use the data to control robot arms developed by the University of Tokyo's Department of Precision Engineering.

[Source: Asahi]

Robot buoy hunts down spilled oil

21 Feb 2008

SOTAB -- As long as oil is transported by sea, accidental spills will remain a threat to the marine environment. When an oil spill occurs, the cleanup response must be quick in order to minimize the environmental and economic impact. To help speed up the response, researchers at Osaka University are developing an autonomous marine robot that can track down spilled oil and provide real-time location data.

SOTAB 1 (Spilled Oil Tracking Autonomous Buoy 1) is a 110-kilogram (243 lb.) GPS-equipped robot that measures 2.72 meters (9 ft.) from top to bottom and 27 centimeters (11 in.) in diameter. It has imaging sensors that can spot floating globs of oil from a distance, as well as viscosity sensors that detect the presence of oil, and it includes a wind monitor, depth meter and water thermometer. When multiple robots are dropped into the water at regular intervals around an oil spill, they can provide a wealth of valuable data to cleanup crews and allow them to monitor a wide area.

Once in the water, SOTAB 1 begins searching for oil by reducing its buoyancy and diving underwater, where it trains its imaging sensors back up at the surface. When the robot sees something that looks like oil, it readjusts its buoyancy and floats back to the surface, using 4 fins to steer toward the oil slick. It then takes water samples and determines how much oil is present. As SOTAB 1 follows the oil around, it sends back real-time data about its location and the surrounding meteorological and oceanographic conditions.

Head researcher Naomi Kato, an underwater robotics engineering professor at Osaka University, says SOTAB 1 is still in the development phase, but he hopes to see it become commercially available in 2 to 3 years.

"We want to get the weight under 30 kilograms and extend the battery life to about 3 to 4 weeks," says Kato, who began working on the robot in 2006. "We would one day like to see these robots become standard equipment on oil tankers."

[Source: Asahi]

‘Heart muscle sheets’ grown from thigh muscle

16 Dec 2007

Heart muscle sheet -- Medical researchers from Osaka University Hospital have succeeded in repairing the weakened heart of a severe cardiac patient by applying thin sheets of muscle tissue grown from cells taken from the patient's thigh. The regenerative medicine technique -- described as the world's first in which a patient waiting for an organ transplant was successfully treated using his or her own cells -- may one day provide an alternative to heart transplant, the researchers say.

The procedure was performed on a 56-year-old male suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which a weakened and enlarged heart becomes unable to pump blood efficiently. The patient, who was outfitted with a ventricular assist device after being hospitalized in February 2006, had been on a transplant waiting list. Instead of receiving a transplant, the patient underwent the experimental heart treatment in May of this year.

To perform the procedure, the researchers first took about 10 grams of muscle from one of the patient's thighs. Myoblast cells (a type of muscle stem cell) were then extracted from the muscle tissue, placed in a culture solution and grown into 50-micron-thick sheets measuring about 5 centimeters (2 inches) in diameter. Several layers of myoblast sheets were then applied to the surface of the impaired heart, where they helped strengthen the muscle and restore cardiac function.

Within months, the patient's pulse rate and cardiac output (the amount of blood pumped from the heart with each contraction) returned to normal levels. The patient's ventricular assist device was removed in September, and doctors say he will be able to lead a normal life after being released from the hospital at the end of this month.

Osaka University Hospital is planning further clinical studies in cooperation with Tokyo Women's Medical University. Over the next two years, researchers will perform the "heart muscle sheet" treatment on six dilated cardiomyopathy patients under the age of 70 who have been outfitted with cardiac assist devices and are waiting for heart transplants.

[Source: Asahi]

Electricity from orbiting solar-powered lasers

06 Sep 2007

Space Solar Power Systems -- In a development that brings space-based power generation systems a step closer to reality, researchers from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Osaka University Institute of Laser Engineering have developed groundbreaking new technology for converting sunlight into laser beams.

Relying on plates made from a special ceramic material containing chromium (which absorbs the sunlight) and neodymium (which efficiently converts sunlight to laser light), the newly developed lasers demonstrated an impressive 42% solar-to-laser energy conversion efficiency, outperforming previous technology by a factor of four.

The researchers say the new laser technology will play a key role in JAXA's "Space Solar Power Systems" (SSPS) project, which aims to put space-based power systems in orbit by the year 2030. By mounting the system on a satellite in stationary orbit 36,000 km (22,400 mi.) above the equator, sunlight would be collected and converted into a powerful laser beam, which would then be aimed at a terrestrial power station and used to generate electricity or produce hydrogen.

SOL, Satellite Orbital Laser -- Unlike earthbound solar power stations, which are subject to night-time darkness and cloudy conditions, JAXA's SSPS will be able to make use of solar energy 24 hours a day. With slight improvements in the solar-to-laser conversion efficiency and by incorporating solar collectors measuring 100 to 200 meters long, a single satellite will be able to match the output of a 1-gigawatt nuclear power plant, the researchers say. One can only hope these lasers never fall into the wrong hands.

The results of the research were announced at a meeting of the Japan Society of Applied Physics that began on September 4 in Sapporo.

[Source: Asahi]