Tag: ‘Simulacra’

Diego-san humanoid robot baby

18 Jan 2010

Researchers from the Machine Perception Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego have teamed up with Japanese robotics firm Kokoro Co., Ltd. to create a sophisticated humanoid robot modeled after a 1-year-old child.

Diego-san baby robot --

The baby robot -- named "Diego-san" -- is designed to help researchers study how infants develop motor skills during the first year of life, according to a recent Kokoro newsletter (PDF). In addition to providing clues about how infants interact with the physical world, researchers will also use the robot to explore how babies acquire and refine the ability to use nonverbal communication such as gestures and facial expressions.

Diego-san baby robot -- Diego-san baby robot --

Diego-san's body has over 60 moving parts, making it Kokoro's most sophisticated robot to date. The robot weighs 30 kilograms (66 lbs) and is 1.3 meters (4 ft 3 in) tall, which is quite a bit larger than the average 1-year-old.

The baby humanoid also has a rather sizable head, thanks to 20 moving parts that allow it to make facial expressions, along with high-resolution cameras for eyes, an audio speaker in the mouth, and 6-axis accelerometers in the ears that allow it to detect orientation and movement.

Diego-san baby robot -- Diego-san baby robot --

Other features include 5-fingered hands capable of holding objects such as plastic bottles, sensors that detect the amount of pressure placed on different joints in its body, and the ability to stand up from a sitting position in a chair.

Apparently, Diego-san's face is still under development (the rubber face shown in the photos is just the first prototype). The researchers are still debating about whether the robot should have a realistic human-like face or one that looks more mechanical.

[Source: Kokoro News (PDF) via BotJunkie via somebadideas]

Robot doppelgangers for sale

14 Dec 2009

Department store operator Sogo & Seibu has announced plans to sell two humanoid robots custom-built to look like the people who purchase them.

Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro with his robot double --
Roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro already got his

The mechanical doppelgangers are available for a limited time as part of a special New Year's promotional sale at Sogo, Seibu, and Robinson’s department stores. They will be built by Japanese robotics firm Kokoro, which is perhaps best known for its line of Actroid receptionist humanoids.

In addition to providing the robot with the owner's face, body, hair, eyes and eyelashes, Kokoro will model the robot's facial expressions and upper body movements after the buyer. The robot's speech will be based on recordings of the owner's voice.

Orders will be accepted from January 1 to 3 at any of Japan's 28 Sogo, Seibu, or Robinson's department stores. Only two robot twins are available, but given the hefty price tag of 20.1 million yen ($223,000) each, the stores will likely be hard-pressed to find any takers. If more than two orders are received, the purchasers will be selected in a random drawing.

[Source: IT Media]

Video: Marine creature robots by kyg-lab

09 Dec 2009

Masamichi Hayashi, president of marine education establishment kyg-lab, has hand-crafted over 100 robotic marine creatures from recycled items such as plastic bottles, food containers, styrofoam, raincoats, and windshield wiper motors. A self-taught roboticist, Hayashi relies on his formal experience as a marine scientist to endow his machines with realistic movements, and he uses them in free shows to teach kids about the locomotion and behavior of sea creatures.

Here is a short video showing Hayashi's great white shark, manta ray, green turtle, hammerhead shark, Japanese giant salamander, porpoise, and killer whale.

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Hayashi's masterpiece is a 1.5 meter (5 ft) long coelacanth robot that weighs 48 kilograms (105 lbs) and cost 2 million yen ($22,000) to build. Here is some video of a diver giving it a snack.

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The coelacanth robot also makes a cameo in the next video, along with a tsuchinoko, a turtle, and a lake monster that carries a piece of waterborne trash to the curious onlookers on shore.

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[Link: kyg-lab]

Video: Sick robot exhibits symptoms of H1N1

21 Oct 2009

A robotic patient on display at the Security & Safety Trade Expo (RISCON) in Tokyo exhibits symptoms of the H1N1 flu virus.

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According to this NTV news report, the life-sized humanoid robot was developed as a realistic training aid for medical workers. In addition to sporting a suit of human-like skin, the robot sweats, convulses, moans, cries tears, and exhibits symptoms not unlike a real human patient infected with the H1N1 virus. If the robot does not receive the proper treatment, the symptoms gradually worsen until it stops breathing.

Patient simulator with H1N1 symptoms --

The news report fails to mention who created the robot, but it looks like it might be a distant cousin of the emergency care simulator developed by IMI.

Saya does Takashimaya

19 Oct 2009

Saya robot receptionist at Takashimaya --
Humanoid robot Saya works reception at Takashimaya main entrance [+]

Saya, a female humanoid robot that can recognize and respond to human speech, spent the past several days working as a receptionist at the prestigious Takashimaya department store in Tokyo's Nihonbashi district.

Saya robot receptionist at Takashimaya --
Saya dressed in Takashimaya uniform [+]

Developed in 2004 by professor Hiroshi Kobayashi of the Tokyo University of Science, the speech-capable robot can provide about 700 programmed responses to questions and commands -- enough to direct customers to the appropriate floor, make small talk, and answer a few basic questions about herself and her background.

Saya robot receptionist at Takashimaya --
A customer asks Saya a question [+]

Pneumatic actuators in Saya's head allow her to move her neck, mouth and eyes while she speaks. She can produce facial expressions ranging from happiness and surprise to sadness and anger.

Saya robot receptionist at Takashimaya --
A peek behind the counter [+]

During her stint at Takashimaya from October 14 to 18, Saya dressed like her human co-workers in a Takashimaya receptionist uniform. She also wore makeup by RMK (view a close-up). Curious shoppers seemed amused by her presence, and many stopped at the reception counter to ask questions and chat.

Saya robot receptionist at Takashimaya --
A shopper tells Saya she is pretty [+]

Although she responded appropriately most of the time, the cyber-receptionist occasionally seemed to misunderstand what people said. For example, one person complimented Saya by saying, "You are pretty," but the robot flashed a look of disdain and responded with, "Are you crazy?"

Saya robot receptionist at Takashimaya --
"Are you crazy?" [+]

Saya grabbed headlines earlier this year when she took on a side job as a substitute teacher at a Tokyo elementary school.

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."

Mechanical tumor, external heart, elastic cell

28 Sep 2009

Interactive media artist Mio I-zawa's "mechanical tumor" is a quivering hunk of fleshy, organic-looking material that expands and contracts depending on the amount of stress your computer is experiencing.

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Equipped with a series of motors and pneumatic actuators, the mechanical tumor pulsates gently when the CPU load is low. When the CPU load is high, the tumor's air compressor is activated, causing the lump of flesh to inflate.

Mechanical tumor, by Mio I-zawa --

The size of the tumor fluctuates according to the CPU utilization rate, giving the user a very tangible reading of the computer's stress level.

* * * * *

Other biologically inspired interactive devices by Mio I-zawa include "external heart," a squishy latex heart on wheels that beats and rolls around in sync with the user's pulse...

...and "elastic cell," a system of 46 soft pulsating cells that react to human touch in a complex, lifelike way.

[Link: Mio I-zawa]

Video: Anatomy of WAHHA GO GO

26 Aug 2009

Maywa Denki president Nobumichi Tosa has created a video detailing the inner workings of the manually-operated WAHHA GO GO laughing machine.

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According to the video, WAHHA GO GO is activated by spinning the torso-mounted metal disk (an optional crank arm can be used for greater speed). The disk's rotational energy is transferred to the machine's left and right arms via a gear assembly in the lower back. As the arms rotate, the accordion-like lungs expand upward, drawing in air that is then exhaled through the machine's artificial vocal cords.

Another set of gear wheels in the spine transfers some of the spinning disk's rotational energy to the head assembly, which includes a pair of tiny arms that stretch and relax WAHHA GO GO's artificial vocal cords (thus regulating the pitch), as well as an arm connected to a valve that controls the flow of air from the lungs. This arm also opens and closes the mouth, which alters the so-called "formant characteristics" (resonant frequency) of the laugh, producing the "wa" and "ha" sounds.

By incorporating a series of mechanisms that work together to control the pitch, resonant frequency, and amount of air supplied to the artificial vocal cords, WAHHA GO GO is able to produce an uncanny human-like laugh.

[Link: YouTube]

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]