- Views Japan’s Robots: Becoming More Human
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- [2012.07.20] Read in: 日本語 | 简体字 | 繁體字 | العربية |
Corporations are making big efforts to advance humanoid robotics technology. The robots have gone from tools that help people to friends that people love. In this article we present some of the best-known examples.
Walking Through Crowded Spaces: Honda’s ASIMO
Honda Motor developed its robot, ASIMO, for use in people’s living spaces. Its size is big enough so that it can use furniture and tools while remaining small enough to be non-intimidating. Since its 2000 creation, it has seen a steadily increasing range of capabilities thanks to the efforts of Honda engineers. The latest ASIMO model, introduced in 2011, is capable of independent motion, without needing intervention from humans; the robot instead uses input from its sensors to decide where and how it will move next.
Descending from the stage at its first demonstration, the 2011 ASIMO took steps into a space where people were passing back and forth. The robot then displayed its ability to walk through crowded areas, avoiding the people it encounters. Overseas journalists on hand to cover the launch reportedly joked with Honda employees that there must be a human hidden inside.
|Abilities||Max speed||9 km/hr|
|Operating time||40 mins (while walking)|
Places to Meet ASIMO
Suzuka Circuit Land (Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, Japan), Twin Ring Motegi (Motegi, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan), Welcome Plaza on the ground floor of Honda’s headquarters in Aoyama (Tokyo), National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (the Miraikan, Tokyo), and Disneyland (California, United States).
The Singing and Dancing Robot: HRP-4C
The HRP-4C is a robot that you might mistake for a human. Engineers at AIST, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, built it based on the measurements of an average young Japanese female. The measurements took into account not just overall dimensions but also the positioning of joints throughout the body. The HRP-4C’s movement is based on data collected with motion capture equipment from actual humans walking and moving their bodies. The robot can also recognize human voices using a built-in microphone and can even engage in conversation.
Judging that a walking humanoid robot wouldn’t have enough commercial value by itself and would be difficult to mass produce, the creators decided to target the entertainment industry and focused on making the shape, movements, and reactions of HRP-4C as close as possible to those of a human. The hope was to develop a robot that could be used in fashion shows and other events. This hope was fulfilled in 2009 when the HRP-4C was unveiled at a show, singing and dancing on stage.
|Weight||43 kg (including battery)|
|Other properties||Number of joints||42, including humanlike joints in the hips and lower back to allow natural walking movements|
Places to Meet HRP-4C
AIST representative: “None planned at present.”
Cycling Sibling Robots
Murata Boy was developed by Murata Manufacturing based on the concept, “Letting our dreams ride on the possibilities of electronics.” The idea was to demonstrate the performance of the company’s electrical components and generate publicity. After Murata Boy’s debut in 2005, the company’s public relations department received inquiries from far and wide asking why there was no Murata Girl. The unicycle-riding “female” counterpart made her debut in 2008. The two robots function as PR characters for the company and have complete personal backgrounds in place, including their birthdays, birthplaces, and hobbies. Murata Boy’s dream is to travel around the world. His motto is, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, and try again.” Murata Girl likes to ride her unicycle at the park and her dream is to travel round the world with Murata Boy.
|Murata Boy||Murata Girl|
|Weight||About 5 kg||About 6 kg|
|Other properties||Movement ability||Rides a bike. When it stops, it can balance itself without using its legs. Can ride along a balance beam.||Rides a unicycle. Can ride along a balance beam.|
|Moving parts||Neck, arms, legs||Neck, legs|
Places to Meet Murata Boy and Murata Girl
CEATEC Japan Electronics Exhibition (Makuhari Messe, Chiba Prefecture, Japan), Consumer Electronics Show (Las Vegas, Nevada, United States). The robots also appear at other scientific events where robotics is a theme.
- Other articles in this report
- The Dolls that Sparked Japan’s Love of Robots: “Karakuri Ningyō” The mechanical dolls of the Edo period, called karakuri ningyō, were the starting point of Japan’s love affair with robots. The intricate clockwork motors inside dolls create playful, realistic movements that capture the imagination and inspire affection.
- Japan’s First RobotGakutensoku was a humanoid robot built in 1928 by Nishimura Makoto, an editorial writer for the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun. This is thought to be the first robot ever built in East Asia. In it, we can see the roots of modern humanoid robotics.
- Fukushima’s Radioactivity-Proof Cleanup Robot “Quince” is a disaster response robot that has been playing a crucial part in efforts to repair the damage at the nuclear power station in Fukushima.
- Robot SoccerRobotics developers have a dream: That one day their robot athletes will defeat the World Cup winners and be crowned as the best soccer team in the world. This year’s “RoboCup – Japan Open” pitted 73 teams of robots against one another for a place in the robot World Cup.
- Building a Bear of a RobotFujitsu Laboratories Ltd. has unveiled an interactive robot teddy bear that can express emotions and respond to people’s input. The robot is expected to provide companionship for the elderly in care and other facilities and facilitate communication among young children.