NIPPONIA No. 38 September 15, 2006


Special Featuresp_star.gifLiving with Robots

Working Robots

It used to be that robots worked only in factories.But that was yesterday. Today you can also see them in offices, stores and homes, helping and interacting with people, even rescuing them at disaster sites.
The relationship between human beings and robots is getting closer, as these pages show.

Written by Takahashi Koki

A friendly co-worker for the office

EMIEW the humanoid robot raises his hand in a friendly, happy greeting. The arms move about as freely as human ones. With his two wheels, he can "walk" as fast as 6 km/h, about the same speed as a brisk walk. He can also turn about quickly in small spaces. Development efforts continue, the goal being to make a robot able to provide information at a reception desk and do simple office work. Height 130 cm, weight approx. 70 kg.


Cute, smart and friendly

PaPeRo is a personable partner, its eyes equipped with CCD cameras to recognize people. This captivating little creature does a dance to show it is happy. But it is more than just cute—it has some conversational ability, and will connect to the Internet to get the news for you and tell your horoscope for the day. PaPeRo is still evolving, the final goal being a robot to share your life with in the home. Height 38.5 cm.

An elegant dance partner

Here is good news for people without a dance partner—they can take the lead with PBDR (Partner Ballroom Dance Robot), applying a guiding touch to her hand, arm and waist. She obligingly figures out the dance steps and follows her partner. Height 165 cm, weight about 100 kg. The researchers' ultimate goal is to develop robotic systems that can work with people.

Feel at ease away from home

Roborior (short for "Robot Interior") keeps a look out for intruders when you are away from home, and sends you images of the interior via your cell phone. And you can communicate with Roborior, too. With a few touches on your cell phone keypad you can make this robotic watchman turn and move about the house, to see if everything is OK. Sized about the same as a basketball, weight 3.3 kg.


No fear of heights here

It climbs up to a balcony higher than a fire truck ladder can reach, carrying a rope ladder and a small oxygen tank to help people escape from a fire or some other life-threatening situation. It can climb up 30 stories and down again in 10 minutes. Height 4 m, weight 36 kg.


Fearless in the midst of danger

FRIGO-DD pushes its way into a building where terrorists might be hiding, or into a flaming chemical plant. Its sensors are looking for a nerve gas like sarin or VX, or some combustible gas, or radioactive gamma rays. Its wireless transmitter sends data to security personnel. The sensors are easily interchangeable. Height 22 cm, length 37.5 cm, width 34 cm, weight 14.5 kg.


Cyber-fantasy robot to the rescue

Enryu ("Rescue Dragon") is big and strong, and goes to the rescue at disaster sites. At a fire, earthquake or other emergency site, Enryu works by remote control, or an operator can climb in and manipulate it, something like in animé cartoons.
Width 2.4 m, height and depth 3.5 m, weight approx. 5 tons.