Tag: ‘Robot’

‘Power Loader’ exoskeleton suit

30 Sep 2009

Power Loader exoskeleton suit by Activelink --

Engineers from Activelink, a Kyoto-based subsidiary of Panasonic, are hoping to turn science fiction into reality with a powerful robotic exoskeleton suit that gives its operator superhuman strength.

+ Video

The so-called "Power Loader" suit -- which takes its name from the fictional hydraulic exoskeleton suit appearing in the sci-fi classic "Aliens" (1986) -- is built on an aluminum-alloy frame and weighs 230 kilograms (500 lbs). Described as a "dual-arm power amplification robot," the exoskeleton suit is currently equipped with 18 electromagnetic motors that enable the wearer to lift 100 kilograms (220 lbs) with little effort. In addition, the Power Loader's simple, intuitive control system employs direct force feedback, allowing the operator to directly feel the movement of the robot while controlling it.

Power Loader exoskeleton suit in Aliens --
Power Loader exoskeleton suit in "Aliens"

Not unlike the film version of the suit, which was used for carrying cargo around on spaceships and colonies, the Power Loader is being created to help humans with heavy lifting, particularly in construction and disaster relief operations.

The Power Loader is still in the development phase, but Activelink plans to have a marketable version of the suit by the year 2015.

[Source: Mainichi]

Miruko: Wearable eyeball robot interface

24 Sep 2009

Miruko, wearable eyeball robot --

"Miruko," a wearable eyeball-shaped robot with a built-in camera and wi-fi capabilities, is designed to augment human perception by sensing and reacting to objects that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

In this video, Miruko's creators demonstrate how the robotic eyeball can be used as an interface for a virtual monster-hunting game played in a real-world environment.

+ Video

Worn on the player's sleeve, Miruko's roving eye scans the surroundings in search of virtual monsters that are invisible to the naked human eye. When a virtual monster is spotted, the mechanical eyeball rolls around in its socket and fixes its gaze on the monster's location. By following Miruko's line of sight, the player is able to locate the virtual monster and "capture" it via his or her iPhone camera.

Other skills, such as the ability to recognize and track specific faces or objects, suggest the Miruko robotic eyeball interface could be put to use in a variety of navigation, surveillance, and augmented reality entertainment applications.

‘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]

Polaris: Mobile phone robot

09 Sep 2009

Mobile phone giant KDDI has teamed up with Tokyo-based Flower Robotics to develop a new concept mobile phone/robot system designed to monitor and learn the user's behavior and communicate via a home TV set.

Polaris mobile phone robot by KDDI iida --

Called "Polaris," the prototype system consists of a mobile handset that monitors the user's daily activities and an artificially intelligent robot sphere (it looks a lot like Sony's Rolly music player robot) that charges the handset and displays data on the user's TV.

When the phone is held near Polaris, the robot opens up to reveal a cradle for the handset. And when it is placed aboard, the robot automatically steers itself toward the contactless charger connected to the home TV set. Polaris then proceeds to analyze the most recent information collected by the handset, and it displays various data on the TV screen and offers advice, if necessary. Like an artificial life form with a bit of personality, Polaris can physically respond to the data with a series of lights, sounds, and movements.

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According to Flower Robotics, the Polaris system -- which was unveiled in Tokyo today along with a host of other KDDI "iida" brand products -- is designed to learn the user's lifestyle by collecting data, analyzing activity, and identifying trends. The robot keeps a database of information accumulated through the handset, such as the user's daily travel and walking habits, calls and email messages sent and received, and online transactions. Using this data, Polaris learns to predict the user's behavior and offer relevant advice and information.

Polaris mobile phone robot by KDDI iida --

Still in the concept phase, Polaris needs a number of improvements to prepare it for the real world. In particular, the robot's navigation system needs further attention. At the demonstration, the robot was placed on a large table that had magnets embedded along the edges, and it used sensors to detect the magnets and stop itself from falling off. According to the developers, future versions of Polaris may achieve greater autonomy by communicating with sensors embedded in the walls of the home.

In addition, the developers plan to make the handset more secure by equipping the touch-screen with finger vein sensors.

Flower Robotics has been working with KDDI on the Polaris concept model since joining the au design project in 2007. The developers hope to have a commercial version of the robot ready next year, although the price and final design have yet to be decided.

[Source: Impress]

RIBA robot nurse bear

27 Aug 2009

Meet RIBA, a robot nurse that resembles a friendly bear.

RIBA, Robot for Interactive Body Assistance --

RIBA -- short for "Robot for Interactive Body Assistance" -- was developed by researchers at Japan's Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN) and Tokai Rubber Industries, Ltd. (TRI). Designed primarily to assist nurses by lifting patients in and out of their beds and wheelchairs (as well as on and off the toilet), the 180-kilogram (400-lb) robot can safely pick up and carry people weighing as much as 61 kilograms (135 lbs).

+ Video

The cheery-looking machine has long, multi-jointed arms embedded with an array of tactile sensors that help it optimize the lifting and carrying of humans. For safety purposes, RIBA's entire body is covered in a soft skin molded from an advanced lightweight urethane foam developed by TRI. The soft skin is designed to ensure the comfort of patients while they are being carried. In addition, the arm joints yield slightly under pressure -- much like human arms do -- further increasing the level of comfort and safety.

The robotic bear can also recognize faces and voices, as well as respond to spoken commands. Using visual and audio data from its surroundings, RIBA can identify co-workers, determine the position of those nearby, and respond flexibly to changes in the immediate environment. The motors operate silently, and a set of omni-directional wheels allow the robot to navigate tight spaces inside hospitals and nursing facilities.

RIBA, Robot for Interactive Body Assistance --

Japan, which faces an impending shortage of nurses as the population grows older, is looking at ways to offset the inevitable challenges that medical institutions will encounter in the coming years. Technology is regarded by some as the solution to this problem, and a considerable amount of government and private research is being devoted to developing robots capable of working in the healthcare field.

RIBA is an upgraded version of RIKEN's RI-MAN, a robot nurse assistant developed in 2006 that was only able to lift dolls weighing 18.5 kilograms (40 lbs). In addition to better strength and perception, RIBA's improved information processing technology allows it to crunch data at least 15 times faster than RI-MAN. This allows RIBA to move faster and with more confidence than its predecessor.

RIBA, Robot for Interactive Body Assistance --

RIBA's creators say they chose the friendly teddy bear appearance to put patients at ease. Attempting to make the robot look human would only frighten people, they claimed in their press release.

RIKEN and TRI plan to put RIBA to work in hospitals within the next five years.

[Source: RIKEN (JP) // Added Sep 1: English press release]

Phasma insectoid robot (w/ video)

24 Aug 2009

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Phasma, a six-legged remote-controlled robot by takram design engineering, is built to run rapidly and dynamically like an insect.

Phasma insect robot by takram design engineering --

Described as an attempt to mimic a living organism purely through its motion, rather than its shape, the mechanical bug employs a design that reproduces some of the physics at work when an insect runs.

Phasma insect robot by takram design engineering --

Using components such as sliding cables, stainless steel springs and rubber joints, the designers were able to replicate the smooth and efficient locomotion seen in insects.

Phasma insect robot by takram design engineering --

Particularly interesting is Phasma's use of the so-called alternating tripod gait, a highly stable walking pattern commonly used by insects in the natural world.

Phasma insect robot by takram design engineering --

The video embedded above shows the Phasma at a recent demonstration at 21_21 Design Sight at Tokyo Midtown.

Phasma insect robot by takram design engineering --

[Link: takram design engineering]

‘Solar UFO’ water cleaners afloat in Osaka canals

20 Aug 2009

Solar UFO --

As part of the upcoming Aqua Metropolis festival in Osaka, engineering firm NTT Facilities has developed a pair of solar-powered, UFO-shaped floating water purifiers that will be deployed in the city's canals and in the moat at Osaka Castle.

The disc-shaped machines -- called "Solar UFOs" -- weigh about 3.4 tons each and measure 1.6 meters (5 ft) tall and 5 meters (16 ft) across. During the day, an array of solar panels power the machine's filtration system, which pumps fresh oxygen into the water while removing impurities. At night, a 1.3-kilowatt solar battery provides juice to the LED lamps lining the edges of the floating craft.

Solar UFO --

The machines, which can purify about 9,000 liters (2,400 gallons) of water per day, spray the clean water out through a nozzle on top, like a fountain. In addition to keeping the surface clean of bird droppings and grime, the water spray keeps the solar panels cool, helping to maintain a high output efficiency.

The Solar UFOs are built using technology developed by NTT Facilities, a Tokyo-based company (part of the NTT Group) whose business includes architecture, construction planning, power supply system design, and the management of large-scale solar power plants. The water cleaners are currently not for sale.

Solar UFO --

Plans are to keep one Solar UFO operating in the Dotonbori canal (in central Osaka) until mid-October. The one in Osaka Castle moat is scheduled to remain in operation until the end of March 2010. NTT Facilities also announced plans to deploy Solar UFOs in Tokyo-area waters in the near future.

[Source: Asahi]

Video: Rescue robot (does not eat people)

11 Aug 2009

Although it may look like a nefarious machine with a taste for human flesh, this robot is actually here to help.

+ Video: Robot rescues victim from radioactive environment

Operated by the Tokyo Fire Department (TFD), the machine is designed to extract disaster victims from areas too hazardous for human rescue workers. The robot uses pincer-like hands to lift victims onto a built-in conveyor belt that pulls them inside until they reach safety.

The remote-controlled device appears to be a compact version of TFD's Robo-Q rescue robot, which is also equipped with cameras and sensors that enable it to see through smoke and measure environmental conditions such as concentrations of combustible gas.

Mini-humanoid robot with iPhone head

28 Jul 2009

A robot hobbyist has developed an application that lets the iPhone 3GS function as the brain and face of a miniature humanoid robot.

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The body of the robot -- named "Robochan" -- consists of a Kondo KHR-2HV humanoid. The iPhone head, which attaches to the body via the dock connector, displays various facial expressions while functioning as the controller. Using Robochan's iPhone interface, the user can program it to function as an alarm clock, dance to music, and perform other moves based on user interaction.

Incidentally, Robochan's leek-spinning dance (and the infectious music) is a reference to the old Loituma Girl Internet meme, which began as a simple Flash animation showing a Bleach anime character (Orihime Inoue) twirling a leek to the traditional Finnish folk song "Ievan Polkka."